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The Man Behind The Machine? 

“Not-SO-Easy Writer” a user’s Report 

Product reports: TecMates, Mathemagic, Visi-1040 
The Freedom Network, and more. . . 

The Independent Guide to 
IBM Personal Computers 

Ptesenting the IBMof 
Personal Cai^xilers. 

IBM is proud to announce a product may have a 
personal interest in. It’s a tool that could soon be on your 
desk, in your home or in your child’s schoolroom. It can 
make a surprising difference in the way you work, learn 
or otherwise approach the complexities (and some of the 
simple pleasures) of living. 

It’s the computer we’re making for you. 

In the past 30 years, the computer has become 
faster, smaller, less complicated and less expensive. And 
IBM has contributed heavily to that evolution. 

Today, we’ve applied what we know to a new 
product we believe in: the IBM Personal Computer. 

♦advanced fi:ati:re.s eor per.sonai. computers 

Display S cr ee n Color/Grapliics 

Hlgh-resoluUon Usdmode: 

( 720h X 350v)* 16 a)iors* 

80 charaaers x 25 lines 256 characters and 
Upper and lower case 
Green phosphor 

ftjfter-on self testing* 

I^ty cheddng 

User Memory 
16K - 256K b>ies* 
Pernument Memory 
(ROM) 40K bytes* 
High speed. 8068* 
AmdUary Memory 
2 optit>naJ internal 
diskette drives. 
5%".160K bytes 
per diskette 
83 keys, 6 ft. cord 
attaches to 
system unit* 

10 function keys* 
lO-key numeric pad 
Ttoiie feedback' 

BASIC, I^'al 

P rin ter 


80 cbaracters/seamd 
12 charaaer styles, up to 
132 charac»rs/line* 
9x9 charaaer matrix* 

symbols in ROM* 
Graphics mode: 

4-color resolution: 

Black & nfiite resolution: 
640h X 200v* 
Simultancoas gr^ics & 
text c*.^xibility*^ 
RS-232-C interface 
Asynchnimxjs (surt/stop) 
Up to 9600 bits 
per second 

It’s a computer that has reached a truly personal 
scale in size and in price: starting at less than $l,600^for 
a system that, with the addition of one simple device, 
hooks up to your home TV and uses your audio cassette 

For flexibility, performance and ease of use, no other 
personal computer offers as many advanced features to 
please novice and expert alike (see the box). 

Features like high resolution color graphics. Ten, 
user-defined function keys. The kind of expandability 
that lets you add a printer for word processing, or user 
memory up to 256KB. Or BASIC and Pascal languages 
that let you write your own programs. And a growing list 
of superior programs like VisiCalcJ" selected by IBM to 
match the quality and thoughtfulness of the system’s 
total design. 

This new system will be sold through channels 
which meet our professional criteria: the nationwide 
chain of 150 ComputerLand® stores, and Sears Business 
Systems Centers. Of course, our own IBM Product 
Centers will sell and service the system. And the IBM 
Data Processing Division will serve those customers 
who want to purchase in quantity. 

Experience the IBM Personal Computer. Vbu’ll be 
surprised how quickly you feel comfortable with it. And 
impressed with what it can do for you. = ■ 

When IBM* built their newest toolbox, 
they come to Microsoft for tools. 

Leadership. When the world's leading computer 
manufacturer decided to enter the microcomputer 
world, they came to the leaders in microcomputer 
software: Microsoft. In fact today, Microsoft has 
provided more software tools for the IBM Personal 
Computer than any other software manufacturer. 
Start with MS-DOS!*" When IBM chose the primary 
operating system for the IBM Personal Computer, 
they chose MS-DOS. They call it PC-DOS. It's a power- 
ful, yet easy to use and understand operating 
system. And all software currently available for the 
IBM Personal Computer runs under PC-DOS. It's 
IBM's principal DOS for the Personal Computer. 
Next, languages. Microsoft 16-bit Cassette BASIC 
is standard with the IBM Personal Computer. But 
Microsoft also provided 16-bit Disk BASIC, Advanced 
BASIC, Pascal, FORTRAN, and utility software for 
the Personal Computer. For fun, we added the 
Microsoft™ Adventure game. For self-improvement 
. . Typing Tutor. 

Why Microsoft? Microsoft virtually invented micro- 
computer software when we put BASIC on the first 
personal computer. Since then, we've developed a full 
range of languages, utilities and operating systems. 
Software that has become a standard for the 8-bit 
world. Software that is becoming the standard 
for the 16-bit world. That's why the world's leader in 
computer hardware came to Microsoft, the world's 
leader in microcomputer software. 

IBM IS a registered trademark of International Business Machir>es. Corp. 
MS-DOS and Microsoft are trademarks of Microsoft. Inc. 


Microsoft. Inc 

tOTOO Northup Way • Bellevue. WA 98004 

A void has been filled! 

T ransforms your microcomputer into The 
Ultimate Calculator. 

Now, a iinique softwoie product enables 
you to use your computer for sophisti- 
cated mathematical calculations — / 

without any programming. £ 

MotheMagic™ spans numerical f M 

processing from the simple to the 

intricate Yet remains flexible /JH 

and easy to use. A helpful tpol 

in the office, laboratory, 

classroom or in the home. 

MotheMagic'* features a 
menu-driven format, easy 

to create user-defined i [V 

variables and formulas. • 

instant disk storage and , ' M 

recall, unlimited use of 9 

formulas within formulas ^ 3 

"what if” calculation ■ " 

repeat facilities and V I 

printer support. X J 

Compatible with Apple \ 

11 or 11+, Atari, TRS-80 

Models I & III. TRS-80 

Model II CP/M. CP/M 

(Z-80). Commodore 


International Soltware Marketing 

Suite 421 , University Building 
120 E Washington Street 
Syracuse. New York 13202 U S.A 
Tei (315) 474-3400 

Hayden House 
5-6 Miilmead 

Guildford Surrey GU?5BZ England 
Tcl Guildford (04B3) 503603 

Price — Under 




Retail Tt 

Apple If IS the registered trademark of Apple Computers Inc .Atariisthe j 
registered trademark ol Warner Communications TRS-80 is the registaretf* 
iradrtmark of Radio Shack aTandyCo CP Mistheregisteredtrademarkof 
Digital Research Inc CommodorePET CBM is the registered trademark of 
Commodore Inc IBM PC is the registered trademark of IBM Corporation.' 

There is nothing else like it 
on the market! 


If you've tried to market your own program, 
you've probably run into a virtual brick wall of 
problems. Problems that require time, energy, funds, 
personnel and expertise to solve. 

Lifeboat Associates invites you to bring your 
problems to us. 'That way you can do what you do 
best: create quality software. And we can do what we 
do best: sell it. 

As an international publisher of quality 
computer software with a strong relationship among 
business, professional, programming and personal 
computer users, as well as micro- and minicomputer 
OEM's, Lifeboat Associates has sold and fully 
supported more software programs by more authors 
for more machines to more users in more countries 
than anyone else. 

And we do a lot more than sell. Lifeboat 
also provides: 

• Full after sales support • A multitude of media 
formats • OEM sales • Extensive promotional cam- 
paigns through Lifeboat's Software Desk Reference™, 
specially designed OEM private label catalogs, foreign 
catalogs, brochures, flyers and direct mail • Adver- 
tising • Advertising preparation • Marketing services 
throughout a wide network of affiliates, dealers and dis- 
tributors • Translation facilities into foreign languages 

• Seminars • Typesetting services • And lots more 

So if you've expended your time and genius in 
writing a great program, bring it to Lifeboat. We'll 
expend our time and genius in publishing it. 

Write for a copy of the Lifeboat Author Guide. 

lifeboot Assocfoles 

World's foremost software source 

1651 Third Avenue. New York, New York 10028 

Copyright E>1981. by Lifeboat Associates Software Desk Retererv» is a trademark of Lileboal Associates 

Keep up with 

the latest COBOL products 
for business applications 

...with the Micro Focus Newsletter 

N ow, the Miao Focus Newsletter 
enables you to keep up to date with 
the latest COBOL products and 
applications. It's the kind of information you 
can’t afford to be without - so ask us to mail 
you, starting with the current issue covering 
topics such as: 

Mainframe COBOL capability. . . 

...on the next generation of miaocomputers. 
That’s the promise of Level II COBOL!’ 
Currently being sold to major computer 
manufacturers, Level II COBOL implements 
seven COBOL modules to the highest level of 
the ANSI '74 specification . . . 

Multi-user environments . . . 

. . . such as bank-switched MP/M are now 
catered for by FILESHARE.” Based on the 
IBM 8100 specification, FILESHARE provides 
total security for CIS COBOL’ programs 
updating shared files .. . 

UNIX’ systems... 

. . . can now run CIS COBOL and Miao Focus’ 
source code generator, FORMS-2 ’ UNIX and 
CIS COBOL are natural partners for rapid 
application development . . . 

Apple II as COBOL... 

. . . provides one of the lowest- cost COBOL 
sy^ems ever. Apple dealers are stocking it 
now, following world-wide distribution by 
Apple . . . 

COBOL applications . . . 

... are now available for a host of industries, 
and one transport industry user tells how he 
used CIS COBOL to achieve 'radical improve- 
ments in efficiency’. . . 

Writing effective packages .. . 

... on miaocomputers presents new oppor- 
tunities and challenges. A question anci 
answer section shows the CIS COBOL 
solutions to problems that could be bugging 
you . . . 

In Japan... 

... CIS COBOL is now distributed by the 
leading supplier of miaocomputer software, 
and has been bought by six computer 
manufacturers . . . 

To receive our newsletter - mail this coupon 
(or your business card, marking it Newsletter 
Offer) direct to us: 


Micro Focus Inc. 1601 Civic Center Drive, 

Santa Clara, Ca 95050. USA. 

Phone: (408) 496 0176. Telex: 278704 MFCIS UR 

Micro Focus Ltd. 58 Acacia Road, London 
NW86AC, England. Phone: (01) 722 8843. 

Telex: 28536 MICROFG 

trademarks of Micro Focus. UNIX is a registered trademark of 
Bell Laboratories. Apple II is a registered trademark of 
Apple Computer. MP/M is a trademark of Digital Research 

^Please mail me 
the Miao Focus Newsletter 




Address . 

A comperdr^ftri of facts, news opinions, rumors, — gossip, inside 
intetlrgencc, speculation and forecasts about IBM Personal Computers. 

“A Very Different IBM” 

An executive of an independent 
software company that is develop- 
ing application programs for IBM 
Personal Computers recently 
shared with PC some experi- 
ences of IBM's willingness to w ork 
w'ith non- IBM program marketers. 
Though the comments seemed fa- 
vorable. the speaker shall, at 
his/her own request, remain 

“It'saveiy different IBM, ' said 
the software developer. “They at 
least listen when you call on the 


■’We went down to see them, 
and they told us. “We don't want 
to develop software for this ma- 
chine ourselves.’ They were very 
open and helpful about giving us 
the technical information we 
needed. The feeling was so radi- 
cally different — it's like stepping 
out into a warm breeze." 

“They really want to coop- 
erate. After years of hassling — 
righting the Not-Invented-llere 
attitude — we're the gods." 

‘‘Billion DoUar Baby” 

The above figure suggests Fu- 
ture Computing, Inc.'s assessment 
of the IBM Personal Computer’s 
economic impact. /fi.V's Billion 
DoUar Baby is also the title of a 
155-page report by Drs. Portia 
Isaacson and Egil Juliussen, of the 
Richardson. Texas, consulting 
firm. Actually, the title is conser- 
vative compared to the figures in- 
side. Among the forecasts the re- 
port offers those who pony up the 
Sh 50 asking price: 

• Ba.sed on product demand esti- 
mated by surveying key computer 
stores, the retail value of IBM's PC 

hardware sales will grow from 
$360 million in 1982 to $2.3 bil- 
lion in 1986. 

• Retail value of IBM software 
sales will grow from $85 million in 
1982 to $^00 million in 1986. 

• Meanwhile, over the .same peri- 
od, PC-related sales of hardware 
from other companies will grow 
from $65 million to $685 million, 
and related sales of software from 
other parties will rise from $15 
million to $395 million. 

The total for all the above cate- 
gories will exceed $4 billion by 
1986. Future Computing says. 

Lookalikes From Home & Abroad 

Perhaps expecting that IB.M 
won't satisfy the demand of all 
who want to buy — or sell — IBM 
Personal Computers, at least three 
companies are said to be preparing 
"lookalikes." One. reportedly 
coming from Lee Data, a U.S. com- 
pany, Is purported to be compati- 
ble with all PC standards, from the 
disk drives on up. 

Then there have been murmurs 
in the trade press of a PC- 
compatible personal computer to 
be made by Italy’s Olivetti — a 
company, incidentally, whose 

typewriters are sold through some 
major retail chains. But the Atlan- 
tic isn't the only ocean that may 
have PC l(M)kalikes crossing it. 

Rumor has a PC Itmkalike well 
along in the works at a Japanese 
manufacturer. This machine, nat- 
urally, wouldn't have IB.M’s name 
and reputation to help sell it. But, 
a.s a countervailing point, what if 
the maker could argue that it was a 
company IBM itself trusted enough 
to use as a provider for parts of the 

From the subscription orders 
pouring Into K In IB.M envelopes, 
and from the news PC keeps ht*ar- 
ing about sizeable IBM-employee 
Personal Computer Clubs, it's 
clear that interest in the PC from 
within the IBM family is substan- 
tial. But just how' substantial? 

In the December issue of Think. 
an IBM company magazine, the 
number of employee PC orders is 


Connection Coming? 

Word has reached PC of a plug- 
in module under development that 
will allow connection of IBM Per- 
sonal Computers to the ARCNET 
local area communic'ations net- 
work manufaaured by Datapoint 
Corp. ARCNET is the local network 
scheme adopted by Tandy Corp. 
for connecting their TRS-80 Model 
II computers together and hooking 
them up to other devices such as 
high-capacity mass storage. It also 
allows the Radio Shack computers 
to work together with larger com- 
puters made by Datapoint. If an 
ARCNET module for PCs is intro- 
duced. it could provide a connec- 
tion allowing IBM PCs and TRS-80 
.Model Us to be mixed together in 
an integrated system. 

put at 10,000. A phone call in Oc- 
tober from a PC informant claimed 
30,000 IBM employees had placed 
orders for PC systems. At the COM- 
DEX trade show, a number men- 
tioned by more than one visitor to 
the PC exhibit booth was -*0,000 
employee orders. And just before 
press time, a note hand-scrawled 
on notebook paper by an anony- 
mous, self-described IB.M employ- 
ee arrived in our mail. It claimed 
more than 60,000 IBMers had put 
in orders fur PCs in the first month 
of the company’s employee offer. 

Whatever the number, two pos- 
sible reasons suggest themselves: 
some employees may hope to capi- 
talize on an anticipated scarcity 
and IBM's said-to-be-generous 
employee deal (according to one 
report: half price, with 2 years to 
pay through payroll deduction) by 
reselling for a profit. Others more 
likely are eager to use their PCs to 
begin writing programs for sub- 
mission to IBM’s software market- 
ing operation. (That, by the way. 
is the only channel which 
employees will be permitted to 
for selling their PC creations, ac- 
cording to another source.) 

Our loose-leaf correspondent 
said employee deliveries were go- 
ing to start last December and be 
completed by .September of ’82. 

PC Clubs Forming Fast 

At least four groups have 
already been organized for people 
who have an interest in IBM Per- 
sonal Computers. The groups' 
scope ranges from local to regional 
to nation^. 

Two of the clubs have been 
formed by employees at IBM facili- 
ties, one in San Jose, California 
and the other in Austin, Texas. 
The first regional group to come to 
PC's attention is based in the 
Philadelphia area. And the nation- 
al group, which has taken the 
name "Autumn Revolution ’81," 
is headquartered in Tulsa. 

Many other groups may already 
have formed, and many more are 
likely to appear in the fiiture. and 
PC would like to hear about them. 
(Drop information to "Clubs, " 
PC, 1239 21 St Avenue, San Fran- 
cisco, California 94122.) Ad- 
dresses for those we know of so far 

Pinladelpbia Area IBM PC Vser 

c/o Craig Uthe 
4101 Spruce Street 
Philadelphia. PA 19104 
The IBM aub 
c/o David Andrews 
310 Honey Tree Lane 
Austin, Texas 78746 

IBM PC Users Group 
c/o Lee Wersel 
7255 Orchard Drive 
Gilroy, California 95020 

Autumn Revolution 


Autumn Revolution '81, an in- 
dependent users group for the IBM 
Personal Computer, has opened its 
national headquarters in 'Dilsa, 

According to oi^anizer Dan 
Perry, the group already has 
several thousand members across 
the nation. Autumn Revolution 
'81 is "dedicated to its members 
and to the development and appli- 
cation of the capabilities" of the 
IBM Personal Computer. 

Membership is *30 for one year 
and *55 for two. The announced 
benefits Include a subscription to 
the club's monthly newsletter, ac- 
cess to an IBM PC software library, 
access to a technical library, user 
training and use of a "technical 
hotline" — a toll-free number 
members can call and, for a fee of 
*1 per minute (*5 minimum), re- 
ceive user Information from a 
qualified technical person. 

Autumn Revolution ’81 makes 
it very clear in its literature that its 
intentions are highly ethical. The 
group does not "condone soft- 
ware piracy and other practices in- 
tended to undermine or circum- 
vent the honesty and creativity of 
the persons engaged in the per- 
sonal computer marketplace." 
Autumn Revolution '81 
P.O. Box 55329 
Tulsa. Oklahoma 74155 

Program Generator Does 

Numberless PCs?? 

Some initial press reports about 
"The IBM Personal Computer" 
made quite a thing of its being 
"the first IBM product without a 
model number." 

T’ain’t so! The nice, silvery 
nameplate on the PC’s front iden- 
tifies it by name only. But on the 
back of the System Unit, near the 
power outlet, a matching silvery 
square discreetly announces the 
product as the Model 5150. (The 
number also appears on the speci- 
fication plate.) 

Thus, the PC can be interpreted 
as an outgrowth, at least in IBM’s 

Bar Code Decoded 

Been wondering about the bar- 
code label on the back of IBM Per- 
sonal Computers — the one that 
looks something like those on cans 
of peas? No. you won’t see PCs for 
sale in the supermarket (Yet!) The 
bars are used in the factory for 
production control. Each PC has a 
unique label, and each work sta- 
tion in the IBM plant has a label 
reader. Every time a PC is moved 
to a new stage in assembly, the 
readers are used to report the 
move to a big computer keeping 
track of the production process. 
From this information, a complete 
who-what-when production his- 
tory is developed for each unit. If 
problems crop up. IBM hopes this 
system will help cure them fast. 

Graphics, Music 

“Program generators” — 
programs that help users write 
other programs — have recently 
appeared on the microcomputer 
scene, with varying levels of 
sophistication and power. (One 
heavily advertised version is called 
The Last One.) In general, these 
are only capable of creating pro- 
grams that do traditional number- 
crunching and file handling. But 
Advanced Operating Systems, an 
Indiana company, has announced 
the imminent debut of a product in 
this vein for the IBM Personal 
Computer — with a special twist. 
The company's program generator 
will have fiill access to the 
graphics and music features of the 
PC. Release of the program could 
come early in 1982. 

eyes, of IBM’s earlier models 5100 
and 5110. Oh well... it’s been 
known to happen before — dumb, 
stolid parents having a bright, per- 
sonable kid. (And the kid not 
wanting to talk much about his 

PC Production Guess 

As you can tell, the topic of the 
IBM Personal Computer is one 
with great potential to set longues 
wagging. The owner of one such 
tongue phoned the PC offices to 
give an unverified report about the 
number of 8088 processor chips 
IBM had ordered from Intel (the 
chip’s manufacturer). The caller 
asserted IBM had committed for a 
minimum of 150,000 chips in 
1982, with options to take the or- 
der as high as 225.000. Our caller 
also commented that, to his 
knowledge, the Personal Compu- 
ter is the only IBM product using 
that particular chip, and that we 
could draw our own conclusions 
from there. 

PCommuniques Pays. 

Are you in possession of infor- 
mation you think should appear in 
PCommuniques? PC pays *50 for 
each contribution published in this 
section. Submissions must be signed, 
but anonymity will be preserved 
upon request. All submissions 
become the property of PC and are 
subject to editing. For payment, 
you must include an address and 
phone number. Write to "PCom- 
muniques," 1239 21st Avenue. 
San Francisco. California 94122. 

Jason McDonald 

has a competitive edge on the market, 
right in his own home. 

You can have all the financial information 
you could only get from your broker, right 
on your home TV screen. Ho«i? With a 
low cost terminal or microcomputer and 
CompuServe's financial services. 

We have a data base that is now serving 
thousands of customers throughout the 
United States with the very latest informa- 
tion on stocks, commodities, bonds and 
most of the name business and financial 
publication sources reguired to keep 
abreast of today's competitive markets. 
Just look at the financial information that's 
available through the CompuServe 
Information Service network. At home. 

On your TV screen. 

MicroQuote: current and historical 
data on more than 40.000 -r stocks, 
bonds and options. Includes vol- 
umes. dividends, earnings per share, 
ratings and shares outstanding. 

The information is updated daily. 
Commodity News Service: 
pricing, news and commentary on 
energy, metals, financial instruments 
and agricultural commodities. Also 
weather, agricultural and economic 

Radio Shack is a trademark 
ot Tandy Corporation 

Standard & Poor’s General 
Information File: selected items 
of information from S&P's NYSE, 

ASE. and OTC Stock Reports on 
over 3,000 corporations. 

Financial pages of major 
regional newspapers: electronic 
editions of major daily newspapers 
including The Washington Post. The 
New York Times, The San Francisco 
Chronicle, plus the AP financial wire. 

Raylux Financial Advisory 
Service: business outlook, financial 
commentary, stock market outlook, 
securities glossary and industrial 
outlook model. 

Value Line Data Base II: 

CompuServe provides access to 
fundamental financial information on 
more than 1 .700 public companies. 

Fintol: personal financial programs. 

How much does It cost? 

The basic charge is $5.00 an hour from 6 
PM to 5 AM local time weekdays, and all 
day weekends— billed in minutes to your 


charge card. MicroQuote. Standard & 
Poor s and Value Line are extra cost 
options. You can access the CompuServe 
Information Service with a local phone 
hook-up from more than 260 U.S. cities. 
For hardware you need a terminal or 
personal computer and a modem. 

There’s more. 

Along with the financial services, you get 
all the rest of the CompuServe Informa- 
tion Services; AP news and sports wires, 
electronic editions of major daily news- 
papers, games, electronic encyclopedia, 
government publication data, travel 
Information, valuable consumer and 
home-related information, entertainment 
features, electronic mail, nationwide 
bulletin board, newsletters from com- 
puter manufacturers — and more! 

When your broker's not available, we 
are. CompuServe's Information Service 
can give you a competitive edge. Get 
a demonstration of the CompuServe 
Information Service at a Radio Shack ’ 
Computer Center or many Radio Shack • 
Outlets. Or for more information 
write "Financial Information" at the 
address below. 

Information Service Division 
5000 Arlington Centre Blvd. 
Columbus. Ohio 43220 
(614) 457-8600 

CopyrighteiJ mfriai 

Charter Ittac, 19St 


U S»€<t«l 

Taking The Measure (Part 1) 

IBM’s new Personal Computer: besinnins a thoroush evaluation from the user's point of view ... .42 

First Iniprctsiens 43 

Beanstalk Basic pc basic— powerful and complex. 44 

Braphic Power a Languase within a lansuase. 46 

OpenSySteai IBM comes to the plus-ln world of personal computers. 47 

Operational Choice An overview of three operating systems byHdiGIdtZCr 50 

a lMCl—iW€ lllt€liri€W 

The Man Behind The Machine? by David Bunnell 16 

Software guru Bill Gates may have provided IBM much more than a new BASIC language and Disk 
Operating System. Vou be the judge. 

C— ■sicattot 

Saperliteracy Awriter'ssearchfortheeiectronicgraii. by Clifford Barney 26 

The Freedom Network New aid for "electronic mail." 30 


Bamewarecomins,bat. . . Game program publishers reveal plans. by Carl Warren 32 

Umr aep»ft 

**Not-So-lasyWriter" by Andrew Ftueselman 35 

A candid evaluation and useful tips from an early buyer of IBM's chosen word processing program. 


Coming Attractions howpcwiii be evaluating products, and what's in the pipeline, by Larry Press 40 

PMhIishcr h Editor-linChicf: DAVID BUNNELL Editor: JIM EDLIN Dosisn Director: JAAAES McCAFFRV PC-Lah Director: 

CARL WARREN Prosraaioiias Editor: KARL KOESSEL Coatribatias Editors: EDDIE CURRIE, DR. REBECCA THOMAS, 


Cover PiMto Sy Jay Carlsoe 

VoIhm« 1, NHiab«r 1 


COMDEX: Th« Year 1 PC a report on the bissest-ever microcomputer trade show, and the PC's impact there 54 

PC Preview: TccMatas a smorsasbord of PC add-ons 57 

PC Preview: Matbcinasic Tumyourcomputerintoacalculator. 58 

PC for A Pablithar by Jeremy Joan Hewes 64 

How Andrew Flueselman of The Headlands Press is puttins his new PC to work. 


DON’T! (Or How To Cara for Toar Coaipalcr) by Rodnay Zaks 72 

Chapter 3, Floppy Disks: A short course on taking care of your PC's crucial storage medium. 

B m of ti 

HttHlory MMiaiMr A full memory complement on one plug*in card 82 

VM-1#40 Tax planning models for spreadsheet programs 84 


How To Ho Ao Inloroiod Huf or Legal considerations when you buy a computer, by K. Stewart Evans Jr 86 

TiMAsooffAltair Rediscoverinstherootsof personalcomputins. by David Bunnell and Eddie Currie 

■ C«l« 

David Daaacll 

Ftyins Upside Down 10 

Zaro Data Thiahins / iiai Idlia 

Confessions Of A Convert 12 

Jaaa Vatas A Rabacca Thoaias 

What do you do with all those computers 62 

D Pwartaseats 



PC Diractorias 

Rook Raviaws Wordstar Made Easy, by Walter Ettlin 


ladaa To Advartisart 

Wish Lift 

PC: Tlw iBdeiMiNlcBt To IBM Ponooal Ceapotora 
Pronlorc Imoo—VoIhom 1, Noabor 1— Pebroory-Morch 19M 

(ISSN applied for.) Published bimonthly by Software Communications Inc. 

Ultorial ood Botioou Office: 1tS9 lift Avcaie, Son Proncifco, Cnlifornio 94111 41S/753-00M 
CoaonSenre 79370,531 









tofacriDfiMii Within USA-sw issues for $12 Elsewhere— snt issues for $24. dir delivery (please remit US fur>ds) 

PC IS an independent jourr^al. not affiliated in any way with Interrtationai Business A^hmes Corporation IBM is a resistered trademark of International Business Machines Corp 

Entire contents Copyright © 1982, Software Communications Inc All rights reserved, reproduction in whole or m part without written permission is prohibited The following are tracKmarks of 

Software Communications Inc . PC. The Inc^ependent Guide To IBM Personal Computers. PC-(.ab, PCommumques. PC Playpen. Project PC, Wish List. Zero Base Thinking 

Printed m U S A. 


David Bunngll 


Conceived shortly after ibm announced its personal com- 

puter on August 14, 1981, PC: The Independent Guide to IBM Personal Com- 
puters was realized in its present form by the vision and determination of 

those who have contibuted to it. 
1981, and six weeks later exhibited our 
Preview Issue at the Comdex Computer 
Show in Las Vegas — alleged to be ttie big- 
gest computer industry show ever. Our PC 
booth was mobbed for the entire four days 
of the event. There was a great deal of in- 
terest in the IBM Personal Computer sitting 
on our counter (running the BASIC demo 
programs), the opportunity to enter our 
subscription giveaway, and the magazine 

We left Comdex in high spirits, and got 
back to home-base San Francisco just 
before Thanksgiving. We immediately 
launched the parallel processes of selling 
advertising, setting up dealers and putting 
together the actual editorial content. 

Along the way we established a produc- 
tion flow, contracted with the best printer 
we could find, made plans for fulfillment, 
set-up a subscription sweepstakes, gar- 
nered in the best writers in the business, 
and proceeded with all of the many other 
tasks of magazine publishing. 

There are good magazines and there are 
bad magazines as well as successful and 
unsuccessful ones. We strongly sense that 
the users of the IBM Personal Computer 
will demand quality end-user publications 
filled with useful, well-written infor- 
mation. It is our destiny to be the first such 
publication and our intention to always be 
the best. 

We unabashedly aspire to that elite set 
of sensationally successful maga- 
zines — Rolling Stone . Playboy, iaABYTE 
are recent examples — that seem to 
magically combine concept and timing in a 
brew which results in a dizzy success cycle 
that no business plan could ever account 

When you get into the business of pure 
dynamic change, as we feel we have been 
in at PC, you open up full-throttle and 
operate largely on instina. As Tracy Kid- 
der put it in Soul of a New Machine, you 
“fly upside down.” 

So, we come to you flying upside down. 

Fortunately forf'Cand our readers, the 
PC crew is mostly combat vets. 

Still, it’s the things you don’t anticipate 
which cause the most aggravation. Ironi- 
cally, in the end they are often the source 
of our most humorous memories. The 
whole day before the Comdex show in Las 
Vegas provided the PC crew with several 
such examples. 

The plan that day was that our Market- 
ing Director Cheryl Woodard and myself 
would leave San Francisco on a morning 
flight. Upon arriving at Las Vegas we 
would pick up the rented station wagon, 
drive to the two hotels we were booked 
into, check in luggage for ourselves and 
for Editor Jim Ediin and Staff Photographer 
Jacqueline Poitier, and then drive over to 
the Convention Center to make sure our 
booth was properly setup. 

Meanwhile, Jim and Jackie, scheduled 
on an afternoon flight were driving 
around San Francisco picking up signs and 
printed material from a half dozen shops. 
They would bring these things with them 
which explains why Cheryl and I brought 
their luggage. 

The first thing that went wrong was 
that the hotel had no record of my reser- 
vation and all the rooms on the Strip were 
booked for the weekend. 

The second thing that went wrong was 
minor, really, which was the color of the 
carpel at our booth was red instead of 
blue. That and the fact they forgot our fur- 

The third thing was that when Cheryl 
inquired about the furniture she discov- 
ered that the people who staff Comdex had 
never heard of us. 

The fourth thing was that Jim and Jackie 
picked up all the printed material OK hut 
missed their plane. They could see it pull- 
ing away from the gate as they dashed into 
the boarding area. 

Finally when it seemed like everything 
had been pulled back together — the situa- 
tion at the exhibit hall was straightened 
out, the hotel reservations were verified, 
Jim and Jackie got on an evening flight and 

arrived safely in Las Vegas laden with 
signs, envelopes and business cards. 

We had one remaining chore, which 
was to pick up 6,000 copies of oar PC pre- 
view brochure from the PSA airline 
counter. Upon arriving we instantly 
sighted several boxes marked “PC” stack- 
ed behind the counter. That was a source 
of collective relief. 

The rest would be easy — or so we 

However, bingo, Murphy again, the 
airline lost the freight bill. The rudely 
mannered clerk behind the counter was 
afraid to release our material to us. With- 
out the air bill he had no record of who 
shipped it or if it had been paid for. it was 
near midnight, too late to call the printing 
company in San Francisco to get the air bill 

Clearly, it wasn’t our fault if they lost 
the air bill. For a good 40 miputes we dis- 
cussed the situation in great and some- 
times heated detail with this surly, over- 
grown boy of a clerk. At one point Jim 
Ediin and I more than half-heartedly con- 
sidered wrestling the packages away by 
force. Hadn’t we had enough for one day? 

Finally, the clerk sensed our hostility 
and wisely determined it wasn’t worth 
any more hassle. He let us have our bro- 
chures. We gleefully drove away, the sta- 
tion wagon loaded down under the weight 
of 6,000 pieces of slick literature. We were 
punchy as hell. We were flying upside 



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Still life of an editor with two computers. 

I thought personal computers were doing quite 
well without IBM, thank you very much. 

personal computer of the pre-IBM era, 
though you’ve probably never heard of It. 

It's called a Compucolor U, made by a 
Georgia company named Intelligent Sys- 
tems Corp. I’m using it to write this col- 
umn. If inspired design were all that 
counted, the Compucolor II ought to have 
enjoyed the success that went instead to 
the Apple II. But while Apple had a mostly 
pale and limited design (though not with- 
out a spark of inspiration here and there) 
Apple did have plenty of inspiration in all 
facets of its marketing and management. 
And the Compucolor, with its brilliant 
design, was afflicted by massive in- 
competence in the apparently more-vital 
management and marketing departments. 

I mention all this because, though the 
guiding principle in IBM’s design of its 
Personal Computer appears to have been, 
“Make a better Apple ll/III,’’ I have a 
strong suspicion that someone influential 
in the PC’s design had more than a nod- 
ding acquaintance with a Compucolor II. 
Many of the PC’s features, such as the 
design of the color/graphics display, echo 
the Compucolor more than the Apple, it is 
this discovery that has helped to turn 
around my views on the IBM PC. 

Initially, you see, I was quite hostile to 
the notion of the PC. Partly this had to do 
with resentment toward IBM’s latecoming 
into personal computers, and revulsion at 
the alacrity with which their entry was 
greeted. I thought personal computers 
were doing quite well without IBM, thank 
you very much, and was repelled by the 
fawning welcome the personal computer 
world gave IBM's belated “blessing.” But 
my objections went deeper than that. 

The truth is, I am no fan of computers. I 
love the power they can give people to do 
things, but I hate the mickey-mouse they 
often make people endure to employ their 
powers. While there was once good and 
necessary reason for most of that mickey- 
mouse. I think advancing technology has 
made It largely obsolete. Most of it, 1 
think, now lingers from inertia and force 
of habit. 

Personal computers were slowly grow- 
ing away from the old, computery tradi- 
tions. and I feared that if IB.M entered the 
market, ultimately perhaps to dominate it. 

they would redirect personal computers 
back into the computer mainstream they 
embody. I didn’t want to see that happen. 

Now that I have become better ac- 
quainted with IBM’s new machine, and 
the company’s new policies, 1 no longer 
fear that outcome. It is clear to me that 
IBM has designed a machine for the future. 
They have published a technical manual 
giving away in detail the secrets of their 
machine. And in that manual’s pages one 
can read everywhere the deliberate effort 
IBM’s designers have made to avoid hem- 
ming in the PC’s future evolution. 

By no means am I saying I'm altogether 
delighted with the PC in its first go-round. 
Among other things. I remain disap- 
pointed that IBM hasn’t made high- 
resolution color display the standard 
rather than an option for the PC. 1 remain 
disappointed that IBM didn’t choose to en- 
courage communications by building a di- 
rect telephone connection jack into every 
PC. (Both these choices would have forced 
desirable economies of scale.) And I'm still 

disappointed that IBM settled for an 
operating system not much advanced be- 
yond the unfriendly qualities of CP/M. But 
I no longer fear that IBM's initial design 
choices will set the standard. 

Whether IBM intended it or not. Pan- 
dora’s box is now open. By both design 
and policy IBM has created an "open 
system.” They have thus insured tha' if 
they dawdle about actualizing the poten- 
tial of this machine, others will keep them 

I once dismissed the IBM PC as a “me 
too" machine. At the present moment, 
that is pretty much the case. But I now 
suspect it is "me-too'' at the start of its 
evolution, compared to machines ap- 
proaching the apex of theirs. 

I'm not quite ready to put my Compu- 
color II away. But I can see it won’t be 

PS — To amutr in adrance all who may be confused: 
So. / bate no connection uitb the Microsofl line 
editor wbicb seems to bate borroued my last name. 



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To The Editor to print in its Premiere Issue? Well, we considered malting them up. Then 
we thought maybe we 'd try printing Letters From Tie Editors this first time around. Next, 
as good citizens of the microcomputer age, we got the bright idea of soliciting ‘ 'letters ' ' to 
our electronic mailbox on the CompuServe Information Service; but nobody replied. 
Then, to our surprise and pleasure, good old-fashioned tetters started showing up at- 
tached to people’s subscription orders, ad orders, arui even just by themselves. So, 
however paradoxical it might seem, what follow are the real thing. We just figured you 'd 
tike to know. 

Report From The Front 

I think the IBM PC will bring a lot more 
people into personal computing. My wife 
and I are typical of one group. We both 
consider ourselves professional computer 
specialists. We had been eyeing a personal 
computer, but what was available seemed 
little better than extended toys. There was 
little feel that the available personal com- 
puters were designed to be tools. 

My wife and I are software specialists 
who want the hardware to be transparent 
to us. The PC gives us this. The system has 
worked correctly since we plugged it in 
the first time. Enhancing the hardware 
does not require an EE degree; adding new 
pieces requires that you can read and 
follow simple directions. 

The system is quite advanced and gives 
us capabilities that we don't have on some 
minicomputer development systems we 
use. The potential for expanding the 
system is impressive. 

Now for our disappointments. Two 
months receiving our PC we don't have 
the 64K memory board to bring us to 
I28K, which means we cannot use 
PASCAL. We don't have the word- 
processing package yet and we don't have 
the communications hardware and soft- 
ware we ordered. We are annoyed and ac- 
tually suffering from the lack of these 
pieces. One motivation for buying the IBM 
PC was to use it as a word processor for a 
book 1 am writing. I'm still writing by 
hand on legal pads. We hope these pieces 
don't become another 3830 for IBM (a 
super disk drive announced two years ago 
and still not delivered). 

The other problem is dealing with Com- 
puterLand. Generally, the ComputerLand 
people are concerned and helpful, but on- 
ly to the limits of their knowledge. They 
do a good (not excellent) job, but a little 
professionalism like that of their grey- 
suited brethren would go a long way. 

Well, we thought we would send you 
some news from the front. We are sure 
your efforts will be a success and have 
enclosed our subscription order. 

Bob Fritz 

Computer Sciences Corp. 

San Diego, California 

Editorial Advice 

OK PC, I'm interested enough in the 
IBM personal computer and in your 
magazine to say “here is my 12 Bucks.'' 
As long as I'm subscribing I would like to 
include a few comments. I sincerely hope 
that your publication will be involved 
with more than just applications software, 
while articles submitted by users and ob- 
jective reviews of professionally produced 
programs are invaluable to your readers, I 
think you can provide an equally impor- 
tant service to a large segment of your pro- 
spective readership by including articles 
about the hardware and system software. 
To have an in-depth understanding of a 
system can turn a fun or useful object into 
a powerful, creative tool. 

I expect that a system with the name 
IBM will attract a great deal of interest 
from users and non-users alike. And I 
suspect you will have great success as long 
as IBM and/or competitors are selling com- 
patible systems. 1 wish you the best of 

Gordon M. Furman 
Santa Barbara, California 

We hope you find PC's Premiere Issue a 
suitable response to your concerns. PC plans to 
cover hardware, software and all else that 
relates to owning and using IBM personal 

Kind Words 

Having been in and around the 
publishing industry for some time ( Time, 
Inc., Newsweek, Inc., Saturday Review, 
etc ), I know just how difficult and 

perilous a new magazine venture can be. 

I also think I understand a good idea 
when 1 see one. PC is i good idea. Most 
new publications aren’t. And happily, PC 
is manned by professionals. Something 
most new publications aren’t either. Con- 
gratulations on your progress with PC. 
Brice W. Schuller 
Doyle Dan Bembach Inc. 

San Francisco, California 

Forgive us, but we couldn't resist running one 
of these. 

Best wishes in your new venture. I 
think that you are covering a system that 
is turning out to be a real tiger in the 
marketplace. It is highly interesting that 
you have an editor named ‘Ediin’. Was he 
the father of the DOS editor? (Ha!) As for 
Cheryl Woodard, well, let’s just say 1 think 
I’m in love! 

X John Graybill 
Gaithersburg, Maryland 

Cheryl (our Director of Marketing & Sales) says 
thanks, and wants to know if you’re interested 
in a lifetime subscription. 

. . .Unkind Ones. . . 

Dear Editor. . What I’d like to know is 
who let this David Bunnell character out 
of his cage anyway. He’s the same clown 
who once wrote that the Altair computer 
could ■ ‘ control all the traffic lights in a ma- 
jor city” I bought an Altair and all I could 
get it to do was change the lights on its 
front panel. Lord knows what wild claims 
he’ll be making about the IBM. 

jack Rowbar 
Traffic Manager 
Plains, Georgia 

. . .And Rcassurins Ones 

We shall be very happy to work with 
you and your staff and provide informa- 
tion on the IBM Personal Computer for 
your new publication. 

P. D. Estridge 

Director, Entry Systems Business 


Boca Raton, Florida 

PC welcomes letters from readers. Write to: 

'Letters, PC. 123921st Atenue. San Francisco. 

CaUfomia. 94122. " Letters published may be 

edited for reasons of space orstyk. 


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PC Exclusive Interview 

With Software Guru 

puter market as to come out with a machine that both in- 
corporates all the good features of existing personal computers 
and accurately points the direction of future ones? 

PC Publisher David Bunnell had a hunch that the answer to this question 
was to be found in Seattle — home of Microsoft, the first personal computer 
software company. 

His hunch was based on the fact that while several software companies were chosen 
by IBM to provide the initial software for the IBM Personal Computer, only Microsoft 
provided a complete range of software. This software includes the IBM Personal Compu- 
ter Disk Operating System, MACRO-assembler high-level languages BASIC, Fortran and 
Pascal and even application programs (Adventure and Typing TUtor). 

So Bunnell hopped a plane to Seattle to investigate for himself. 

Sure enough Microsoft’s involvement was total, day-in, day-out. For more than a 
year, 35 of Microsoft’s staff of 100 worked fulltime (and plenty of overtime) on the IBM 
project. Bulky packages containing computer gear and other goodies were air-expressed 
almost daily between the Boca Raton laboratory and Seattle. An electronic message sys- 
tem was established and there was almost always someone flying the arduous 4,000 
mile commute. While many other individuals and companies consulted with IBM during 
the course of ‘‘IBM PC” development, and most have intriguing yarns to tell, only one 
company worked with IBM in such an inUmate and (especially for IBM) unheard of 


David Bunnell 

Continued next page . . . 

“Before they came, they said, ‘Hey, we 
may really do some business. It could 
be exciting.’” 

The highlight of Bunnell's investigation 
was a fascinating two-hour exclusive in- 
terview with Bill Gates, president and co- 
founder of Microsoft. As it turns out Gates 
probably knows mure about the IBM Per- 
sonal Computer and its history than any- 
one (outside of IBM, of course). 

DA VID: Wbat can you tell us about Mi- 
crosoft ‘s involvement with IBM on tbe Per- 
sonai Computer project? How it was initi- 
ated and what transpired, as much as you 
can reveal. 

BILL: In the case of the IBM project we 
started off not really knowing what they 
wanted. They came out in July of 1980 and 
first talked with us on a very tentative ba- 
sis as though they were just doing market 
research. They said, “Don’t get too ex- 
cited and don't think anything big is going 
to happen.” 

Then they talked about how something 
could be done fairly quickly if a machine 
was designed to run standard software. In 
fact, we found out later that behind the 
scenes different labs w ithin IBM had been 
charged with looking into how they could 
get a project done on a very quick basis. 
The typical product design time for a large 
company like IBM, and they keep track of 
this, is a little over four years. That is part- 
ly because they do such a complete job, 
and yet, in the personal computer indus- 
try, which they had a desire to participate 
in, you really couldn t be competitive if 
you speced out your product in 1976 and 
sold it in 1980. You would be selling an Al- 
taic computer against an Apple II. 

So they wanted to come up with some 
way of doing things a littie differently. 
One of the development managers of IBM 

got a committee together, people from dif- 
ferent laboratories, and told them to go 
out and research the issue. The people we 
met with were from the Boca Raton labo- 
ratory, simply putting together some 
thoughts, essentially about how to cheat, 
and their Idea was to use software that al- 
ready existed out in the world, and to use 
industry standard parts like-the Intel mi- 
croprocessor. So they went back and said 
that based on using that approach they 
could get something done in the order of a 

My understanding is that some of the 
other groups put in proposais that in- 
volved emulating existing IBM instruction 
sets, and there have been a lot of rumors 
that one of the groups looked at buying a 
machine from Japan. In fact, one of our 
Japanese customers had us do some dem- 
onstration software that was probably for 
that lab that was looking at Japanese 

In any case, Boca Raton got the go- 
ahead sometime in iate 1980 and they 
came out with a lot of people, about 12 
people. Before they came, they said, 
"Hey, we may really do some business. It 
could be exciting " And then they said, 
“We have a lot of things to do, we'll 
have our technical team meet with your 
technical team, so let’s do them in paral- 
lel. We’ll have our legal team meet with 
your legal team, we' II have the purchas- 
ing team meet with your purchasing 
team, we’ll have our technical team meet 
with your technical team, so we can do 
four or five things at once.” Well, that is 
fine, but that’s me who is going to do 
those things and I can do oniy maybe two 
things at once, so we’re not going to be 

abie to have five simultaneous meetings. 

Anyway, they came out with 12 peo- 
ple, and we really got things going. We 
ended up making the hardware a little 
more state-of-the-art by putting new 
things in it that went beyond the cardinal 
rule of getting the project done in a year. 
But, you know, the second priority 
beyond getting it done in a year was to 
have a state-of-the-art machine and by 
using the l6-bit processor and doing 
some of the stuff in the graphics, I think 
everyone pretty much agrees that that 
was achieved. 

DA VID: Wby is it important to have a 
16 -bit processor? 

BILL: That is one area where there is a 
iot of confusion because the standard 
thing in the industry nowadays is to say. 

"Who cares about what’s inside the ma- 
chine?” People are buying a solution, not 
a computer, which is absolutely true. 
They are buying things like word pro- 
cessing or Visicaic which is one of the ap- 
plications IBM announced. 

I think l6-bits is extremely important, 
and it is not because of speed, although if 
you sit down at an IBM machine and play 
with it a Uttle while you will see that it 
performs significantly better than existing 
8-bit machines. 

The main reason for the 16-bit micro 
being advantageous is its increased ad- 
dress space. That sounds like a technical 
issue, but what it boils down to for the 
end-user is that we can do more complex 
software, with a better end-user inter- 
face, in a more transportable form than 
we have ever been able to do in what I 
call the ”8-bit world.” 

When I say 8-bit world, I mean the 
6502 microprocessor, which is the chip 
used in the Apple, the Pet and the Atari, 
or the most popular chip which is the 
8080, Z-80 family used in the Xerox 820 
machine, the NorthStar, Vector Graphic 
and many others. In those 8-bit machines 
there is one common characteristic, 
which is that the logical address space in 
the machine is limited to 64K bytes (about 
64,000 characters of storage). You have 
to put the operating system, the program, 
the data, the graphics memory, if it is go- 
ing to be efficient — all those things in a 
single 64K area. You gel into some terri- 
ble problems where you have to write 
program code in a hard to maintain 
fashion to keep it small and in fact that is 
one of the things that Microsoft is doing 
absolutely the best job of, is writing stuff 
in a small amount of space. Its a fine art 
that we spend a lot of time on. because in 
8-bit machines it really made a lot of dif- 
ference. But this is no longer our focus 
on 16-bit machines. 

People also compromised in the end 
user interface with their packages 
because they simply could not gel enough 
stuff in there, and finally the overall 
capability of the packages are also com- 
promised because you want it to be able 
to run on all the 8-bit machines. For ex- 
ample, whenever we have put a new 
feature in BASIC such as good screen 
handling, which is something that we are 
working on now, people complain 
berause any feature we put in takes away 
from the space available for an applica- 

.Now in the 8088 (the Intel 16-bit mi- 
crocomputer used by IBM), that limit, the 
logical address space limit, is for all prac- 
tical purposes gone away. The chip is de- 
signed to address up to a megabyte ( I mil- 
Uon characters). IBM's announced sup- 
port for up to a quarter megabyte, that is 
256K, and it is very much in the relevant 
range. In other words, that factor will 
make all the difference in terms of quality 
end user interface integrated software. 

DA VID: Witt your recently announced 
planning package. MuUiplan, be inte- 
grated with word processing? 

BILL: Not in its initial release. When 
we first get an extra resource, we don't 
know all the ways we are going to be able 
to take advantage of it. All 1 can really say 
is the 6 aK barrier has been the critical 
constraint in terms of writing software in 
a transportable form and putting new 
features in. Now that we have the 
freedom, we can use some more creativi- 
ty to take advantage of it. It's just like 
high resolution graphics was on the Ap- 

ple. When the Apple II first came out it 
had high resolution graphics, but for 
about three years, nobody wrote pro- 
grams that would take advantage of it. 
The programs were low resolution and it 
was kind of bizzare to try to use that ex- 
tra mode. But today, the Apple II is vir- 
tually defined by high resolution 
graphics. There is simply not an enter- 
tainment package around, or even a lot of 
the serious packages, that don't take ad- 
vantage of that. 

Just some indication of this is that the 
graphics memory in the IB.M PC is right in 
the address space of the machine. What 
that means is you can directly manipulate 
those bits on the screen using any of the 
8088 instructions. Particularly the string 
instructions can be used to great advan- 
tage to provide animation type effects up 
on the screen. We could not have done 
that on an 8-bit machine, because we 
would have used up that crucial 6 aK re- 
source, whereas on the 8088 it is mega- 
byte resource. We put it very high in 
memory. I think about three quarters of 
the way up, and so it is there anytime 
you want to use it. 

■Myself and someone else here wrote 
most of the demo programs used on the 
IBM machine in a matter of about three 
hours, because the extra versatility pro- 
vided by directly manipulable graphics al- 
lowed us to put commands in BASIC that 
let you get at the full power of the 
machine very easily. In the case of the 
Apple, anybody who knows how to do 
really good high resolution graphics has 
to be a guru and so there is what I call a 
"bits and bytes barrier" to getting in and 
using the machine. And so to do a good 
program, you have to be both smart 
about bits and bytes, and creative enough 
to create the program. It is a rare in- 
dividual who combines both of those 

In the IBM PC we have lowered the bits 
and bytes barrier so we will tap into some 
people with additional creativity and un- 
derstanding of how to do whatever the 
particular need is. We are getting rid of 
the general need to get into the innards of 
the machine to make it really perform. 
The power of this machine is much more 
on the surface than an 8-bit machine 
could possibly deliver. 

DAVID: Now that you are into the sub- 
ject of graphics, teii us more. 

BILL: Looking at the graphics, the 
things that I mean specifically are some of 
the simple verbs that have been added in- 
to tbe BASIC and I will highlight three of 
those. The CIRCLE statement is very 
straightforward, you simply state where 
the center of the circle is and what the 
radius is going to be and immediately the 
thing is drawn at an extremely rapid 
speed. Also, you've got a lot of other op- 
tions, you can add it at the end of the 
statement, like start angle, and end 
angle, and aspect ratio. The default is 
simply to do a full round circle, and that 
is something that the user can get at and 
use. for example, to do pie charts. 

Another statement is what we call 
PAINT. It is a very simple notion. You 
simply enter a point on the screen and its 
just like putting your paint brush down 
there and painting until you hit the edge 
of the screen or the border. Say you draw 
a white border and you want to paint un- 
til you bit white, so no matter what the 
figure you have there is, square or circle 
or crazy looking thing, it will use its paint 
brush and paint in until it finds those 
edges. As a default it paints in the same 
color as the edges, but if you provide an 
extra parameter you can paint with an- 
other color. So you could paint a white 
circle with a blue center, or, if you had 
some sort of a jagged line graph and you 
wanted to show it as an area, you find a 
point in the interior and it would paint 
that arbitrary figure. 

PAINT is a single verb. It is quite sim- 
ple and intuitive and yet its implementa- 
tion is very hard. That brings through 
some of the power of this machine. You 
can paint a figure that's virtually the en- 
tire screen in about two seconds. Really, 
there is no way that that could have been 
done on an 8-bit machine. It may sound 
unimportant but when you really get into 
trying to do some of these new user in- 
terfaces, the so called Xerox Star-like in- 
terfaces that really are what is going to 
open up these machines to a wider user 
population, these graphics primitives are 
incredibly important. For example, when 
we put a little arrow up on the screen to 
point to things, we use a solid arrow, and 
to do that efficiently we have actually 
generated the thing with PAINT. 

The final verb I wanted to mention is 
DRAW and this represents a philosophical 

continued. . . 

“If you sit down at the IBM machine and 
play with it a little while you will see that 
it performs significantly better than 
existing 8-bit machines.’’ 

“When we first get an extra resource, 
we don’t know all the ways we are go- 
ing to be able to take advantage of it.” 

decision we made a couple of years ago, 
which was that every time we put some- 
thing new in BASIC there is a tendency to 
add a ton of verbs. In the case of 
graphics, where you are really adding 
verbs all of the time, and the user has a 
hard time remembering all of these verbs 
and each of them has its own individual 
syntax, and so that is a problem. The se- 
cond problem is that if you use a bunch of 
verbs, then tbe description of a graphics 
object is not something you can read or 
write like a Ble. It is aaually a program 
and so to move the embodiment of the 
graphics object around you have to move 
a program around. Well, that’s a real 
pain, because in BASIC a program and 
data aren’t treated uniformly and so you 
just get into big problems. What you’d 
really like is a simple way of using one of 
the data types already in BASIC to 
describe arbitrary graphics objects, and 
what we chose is the string data type. So 
now we have a simple single verb that 
gives you almost all the graphics capabil- 
ity and it is called DRAW. 

Just to give one example, if you want 
to draw a box, you use the subverbs, 
which are R for right, L for left, U for up 
and D for down. So if I want a 10 x 10 
square, I would enter DRAW, put a quote 
mark to indicate that it is a string, and go 
‘‘R20 D20 L20 U20” and if I execute that 
it will draw the box. That is called 
Graphics Macro Language and the IBM PC 
is actually the third machine we have put 
that on. It has been extremely well 
received, and since using those strings 
you can write into a file or edit them or 
search for something inside them super 

That same concept has been used for 
music where it is called Music Macro Lan- 
guage, and so instead of DRAW you use 
PLAY, Enter PLAY “A, B, C” and it plays 
the notes A, B and C. It is true if 
somebody wants to specialize in them 
they have to learn the so-called macro 
language for that area, but It consists of 
reaUy super simple commands and very 

Music is another case where I don’t 
mean to pick on Apple — the only reason I 
use it is tecause it is an example of one of 
the most popular machines that has a lot 
of these capabilities and yet they are hard 
to get to. Once again, with music you 
have to be a real bits and bytes man to get 
that Apple to play any kind of decent 
tone. With the BASIC we have provided 
here, you can play something in legato, 
staccato or normal, just knowing a few 
simple characters that you type in under 
the control of BASIC. So we are pushing 
towards fulfilling the promise of these 
personal computers which is that 

anybody can just pick it up and use 
it — it’s still not fulfilled but we are mov- 
ing in the right direaion. 

DAVID: We've been talking about things 
that IBM has done right which are signifi- 
cant. In your opinion, what are some of 
the things they have done wrong or not 
quite right? 

BILL. Well, you know in a way I am bias- 
ed because of the depth of our involve- 
ment. I’d say it’s a reasonably good 
balance, I mean in a way IBM is standing 
on the shoulder of experience that 
everybody else had in the industry — in a 
totally fair and good way, but it’s not like 
1976 when we didn’t know what the 
market was and how to sell things. A lot 
of elements have been firmly established. 

I have a wish list after we finish a pro- 
ject. I don't think cassette machines are 
super important and so 1 think the effort 
that was put into have a cassette interface 
wasn’t worthwhile. I think everybody is 
going to run out of slots very quickly. 
The machine has a 5 slot limitation, but I 
suspect that an independent peripheral 
industry will start to do some combina- 
tion cards that will reduce the pain of 
having a limited number of slots. 

Everybody talks about how they’d like 
to have more disk space on the machine 
and of course I always like to see net- 
working on a machine and nobody really 
has a good solution to that yet. It would 
be nice if there was a hard disk and I’m 
sure the independent vendors will come 
and put one of those on it. 

It’s possible to do a much better ma- 
chine in a lot of ways from a hardware 
point of view. You could put a faster pro- 
cessor in. Intel’s has the 8086. You could 
do a machine that is almost four times the 
performance. When Intel comes out with 
their 8087 chip, that will be a nice poten- 
tial upgrade. I think IB.M’s Technical Ref- 
erence Manual makes it clear they have 
an additional socket on there for that 
8087 floating point processor but from 
my point of view, which is once again 
biased, the name of the game is software. 

This machine will be significant be- 
cause it will usher in a new generation of 
portable software which will be signifi- 
cantly better because of the speed, the 
address space, the instruction set, the un- 
derlying operating system, and the expe- 
rience gained from the previous years, 

I think five years from now the 

amount of software and the quality of the 
software on this machine will be incredi- 
ble. It will dwarf what is available on 
mainframes, minicomputers and other 

DAVID: / think we should talk a little bit 
about tbe operating system. Partly 
because / see a lot of confusion about MS- 
DOS and its relation to CP/M, and 
CP/M-86 more specifically. It seems that I 
read over and over again in tbe press that 
IBM bos an operating system that is com- 
patible with CP/M. Does it? 

BILL: Well, not really. There certainly is a 
lot of confusion about this issue. When 
IBM announced the machine on August 12 
they said they’d be making available 
three operadng environments. And the 
operating environment that we provided 
is know by IBM as Personal Computer 
DOS. We call it MS-DOS and Lifeboat 
Associates calls it SB-86. So we’ve got a 
lot of different names which adds a little 
bit to the confusion, hut that’s the 
operating system. 

All of IBM's applicadons and languages 
that they're supporting run under it. In 
other words, VisiCalc only runs under PC 
DOS. The BASIC only runs under PC DOS, 
the Peachtree programs, and EasyWriter 
word processing package run under that. 
We’ve done some things there that are 
substantially different than has been done 
in CP/M. We did provide an upward mi- 
gration path — in other words, we made 
it extremely easy if you’ve got source 
code and a translation package to move a 
CP/M-80 package up into the 8086 en- 
vironment without worrying about the 
operating system interface. In other 
words, we emulate all the CP/M-80 calls 
because no doubt there is quite a wealth 
of CP/M-80 packages in existence. In fact 
the greatest installed base of CP/M-80 
machines are the users of Microsoft soft- 
cards which plug into Apple computers. 
So we are probably as aware of that as 
anyone. Also I think we have more 
system software under CP/M-80 than any 
of the other vendors. So we made it 
possible to do that migration. 

The move from 8-bit to l6-bit is an op- 
portunity to improve things a great deal. 
CP/M-80 became a de facto standard in 
the 8-bit world. There is really no oppor- 
tunity to change that — the 8-bit designers 
will essentially stop over the next year. 
The only chance to move up to a stronger 

base Is to grab this opportunity as we 
move into tbe new generation of pro- 

Microsoft started out looking at l6-bit 
operating systems at tbe high end. About 
two years ago we went to Western Elec- 
tric and licensed their Unix Operating 
System — which we have commercialized 
to a form known as Xenix. When IBM 
came along both from a technical point of 
view and other considerations it made 
sense for them to work with us on a new 
product we were doing which was a low- 
end operating system. So what we’ve 
got now is a family of operating systems 
with MSDOS at the low end and Xenix at 
the high end — really there’s such a broad 
range of systems. From a single-user 
floppy system up to essentially a time 
sharing l6-bit system. We feel it is 
absolutely critical to have more than one 
operating system, although you have to 
have complete compatibility to move up 
along the line and add additional capa- 
bility. That’s what we have done with 

DAVID; Let's talk a little bit about IBM 
again. Wbo do you think tbe main cus- 
tomers are going to be for the IBM Per- 
sonal Computer? 

BILL: I suspect that they will sell tons 
through their DPD sales force to large 
companies that have been looking at per- 
sonalized work stations with local intelli- 
gence with a great deal of interest but too 
much fear to date. 

The Apple II does not have enough 
communications capability and CRT capa- 
bility to really be used in that mode. Until 
the IBM PC came along there was no 
product that could be offered to fill that 
need and I think that it is a huge market. 

I’ve never heard any IBM estimates so 
I am just guessing here, but I think the 
majority of the sales will be through their 
DPD sales force. You know. Sears is doing 
a super job but they are oniy projecting 
five stores by the end of the year. No 
doubt Computerland will sell a lot of the 
machines but I doubt if they will be able 
to keep up with essentially the Fortune 
500 demand from standard data process- 
ing departments. 

DAVID: When do you think IBM will begin 
to sett through independent retailers? 
BILL: All I know is what I read which is 
that towards the start of next year, 

they’ll start to qualify additionai retail 

My understanding is that they will 
broaden their distribution. You know, 
IBM has to be admired for some of their 
conservatism. They only qualify the best 
and most professional groups to work 
together with them, because IBM is very 
afraid that somehow their overall cor- 
porate reputation is going to be hurt by 
what they are doing in this area. 

DAVID: Still, IBM is doing some rather 
radical things, at least for IBM. 

BILL: And it scares them that somehow 
that might hurt their image. So they went 
to Computeriand, which is probabiy the 
leader in the independent dealer area. 
They gave BYTE magazine an initial ex- 
clusive on talking about the machine. 
They’ve reaily gone to the most estab- 
lished groups to do their work. 

DAVID: How many machines do you 
think IBM uiU seU in 1982? 

BILL: My guess is not based upon any in- 
side information whatsoever but I think it 
wiil be not far from 200,000. 

DAVID: Ready? 

BILL: If they can deliver them, the poten- 
tial is there. I've heard numbers ranging 
anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 so I 
am an optimist beyond the median point 
of that scale. They’ll have to open up 
more distribution, though. I don’t think 
Computerland can push through that 
many. And they may run into some pro- 
duction bottlenecks. There are a lot of 
outside vended parts on the machine and 
they are not going to compromise quality. 
Certainly at this point the machine is in- 
credibly short, you know, we’ve got a 
ton on order and it is going to take a few 
months before they come in. 

DAVID: Yes, we have tbe same problem. 
Let's move on to another topic, which tve 
alluded to earlier. How does your soon- 
to-be-announced electronic spread sheet, 
Multiplan, relate to VisiCalc? 

Is it belter? 

BILL: Oh, certainly. It’s a second genera- 
tion spread sheet product. We’II be really 
going into that in our literature and it’s a 
huge promotion thing for us — almost 
equal to all the promotion we have done 
for the entire company in its history, just 
for this one product. But, I’ll just men- 

tion two things that are critical in 
Muitiplan. The first is the use of naming. 
You are not put into a mode where you 
have to use “AIO,” “B9,” “CI4” and 
things like that, which you have to do 
with VisiCalc. If you want to say that 
taxes are 6% of sales then you say 
“taxes are .06 times sales.” If you want 
the sum of all the profits you say “SUM 
(Profit)’’ and so we deal with data on a 
name basis which is the way people are 
used to dealing with it. The second thing 
is that we handle what we call 
Multisheet, which is a pretty obvious 
capability if you accept the analogy that 
these are spread sheet simulators. It is 
quite common to take numbers from, say, 
your cost sheet and your sales sheet and 
consolidate together. What you would 
really like is when you update the cost 
sheet it will carry over to the summary 
sheet. As soon as you look at the sum- 
mary sheet, the information will be 
there. You don’t have to type any com- 
mands or do any work every time you 
make the change to get the information 
over there. We have accommodated that 

One iast thing, that I would like to 
mention also, is the way we have done 
the end-user interface. We’ve done away 
with slashes (/) and the need to know a 
lot of things about what is going on inside 
the package. For example, VisiCalc has a 
feature called “Order of Recalculation.” 
The user has to think about does it go 
horizontally to recalculate or vertically to 
recalculate. Well, that’s ridiculous. It’s 
up to the computer to figure out the order 
of recalculation and not force you to 
figure out how you have to order your 
data so that things propagate through in 
the right order. That’s a very technical 

DAVID: Are you doing other end-user 

BILL: The second wave is Multichart and 
Multifile which is data base and those will 
come out fairly quick in like three or four 
months, but anything beyond is easily six 
to nine months away. 

DAVID: Orw thing you seem to be saying 
is that we are going to see a whole new set 
of application programs similar in con- 
cept to 8-bit programs oniy with a lot of 

BUI: Right. 

DAVID: Let's slip down tbe road five 
years. What are some of tbe real signifi- 
cant advances you see? 

BILL: In five years the cost of computa- 
tion will really be effectively decreased. 


“We’re still not at the stage where I’d tell 
my mother, or some naive person, just 
to go out and buy one of these 

We’ll be able to put on somebody's desk, 
for an incredibly low cost, a processor 
with far more capability than you could 
ever take advantage of. Hardware in ef- 
fect will become a lot less interesting. 
The total job will be in the software, and 
we’ll be able to write big fat programs. 
We can let them run somewhat ineffe- 
ciently because there will be so much 
horsepower that just sits there. The real 
focus won’t be who can cram it down in, 
or who can do it in the machine 
language. It will be who can define the 
right end-user interface and properly in- 
tegrate the main packages. I expect over 
the next five years between us and others 
a heck of a job will get done. You’ll be 
able to sit at your desk and do whatever 
it is you want to do with information or 
presenting data or interchanging data in- 
credibly effectively. In other words, we 
will have changed the way people work. 

At that time we’ll just see the begin- 
nings of the home information system, 
because it is so much harder to cost- 
justify that type of device. But 1 do feel 
that the “office of the future" will be the 
office of the present five years from now. 

DA VID: What kind of mass storage device 
wUI machines bate in five years? 

BILL: Well, you’ll probably still have local 

floppies in a lot of cases, but most of the 
storage size-wise will he in shared file 
servers — and although optical disk may 
have had an impact, even at present 
prices and capacities large (magnetic) 
disks would suffice. There are 
300-megabyte disks down in the S 10,000 
to S 15,000 range now. If you can spread 
it across 20 users — that is, with a good 
networking scheme — you could justify it. 
So, while there ought to be some im- 
provement there, 1 don’t think that 
we've got any bottleneck even today. 
Networking is probably one of the big 

DA VID: How are you facing that chal- 

BILL: Well, we’ve designed a structure in 
MS-DOS that lets it work in a network 
environment in a very strong fashion — 
and it’s substantially different than what 
Digital Research has defined for CP-Net. 
We’re passing high level file calls down 
the network, through a tree-structured 

DAVID: What's the most satisfying experi- 
ence you 've bad in this business to date? 
BILL: I always sort of latch onto the most 
recent thing. This IBM project was a 
super-exciting, fun project. We were 

given, even for a small company, an in- 
credible amount of latitude in changing 
how things got done as the projert pro- 
gressed. And we really were allowed to 
feel like some of the key work had been 
done here. And we had a really great 
interface with the people from the 
customer (IBM), even though they’re as 
far away as they could be, down in Boca 
Raton. The night flight down there is 
not too much fun. We had a lot of fun 
together. We had an electronic mail 
linkup, and we’d send messages every 
day and we’d give each other a hard time 
about whichever group was behind on 
whatever they were responsible for. 
We loved to kid them about all the securi- 
ty — how we had to have locks, and sign 
things in, and use code names and stuff 
like that — but it was just part of the 
project camaraderie, really. When 
the thing finally got put together and 
we did the demo programs, everybody 
around here was enthused. That’s 
something WE did! 

1 don’t know how many people have 
read Tracy Kidder’s new hook The Soul 
Of A New Machine, but it was like 
that— and everybody really did get their 
just desserts of being recognized and 
knowing what part they put into it. Peo- 
ple worked incredibly hard. I guess there 


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was a kind of an anticlimax when I got a 
form letter from IBM a week after we’d 
finished the thing which said, “Dear Ven- 
dor. You’ve done a fine joh.” But they’ve 
apologized an appropriate number of 
times for that. 

There’ll be more projects. In fact, 
we’re starting up one now which in its 
general concept should prove to he as ex- 
citing. And we re still not at the stage 
where I’d tell my mother, or some naive 
person, just to go out and huy one of 
these machines. In a couple of years we'll 
achieve that real peak — to fill that gap 
and feel like it’s a real tool. 

DA VID: // sounds like from what you re 
saying that you have probabiy bad more 
influence on the final result of the 
machine than anyone, with possible ex- 
ceptions at IBM. 

BILL: Oh, that’s absolutely the case. The 
people at IBM did a fantastic job and 
there's some super smart people there. I 
was very, very impressed with the team 
they pul together. They used most of the 
people who had their own personal com- 
puters. Employees within IBM who have 
the oomph to go out and get their own 
personal computer and be kidded by their 
fellow workers, are in general a pretty 
good class of individuals. And a few of 
these people were just exceptional. 

They were brought in from the com- 
pany at large and they came down to 
Boca just for this project. We were the 
only vendor that understood what the 
project was about. Even up to the an- 
nouncement most vendors were kept in 
the dark about the general scope and the 
general push of the thing. So we really 
enjoyed a really unique relationship. I 
don’t think its flatter- 
ing ourselves to say that I doubt that IBM 
has ever had such a relationship ever be- 
fore. In fact, in their internal magazine — 
Think — they even mentioned the role 
that we played which was quite a thing 
for them to do. Other than this project, 
most outside vendors for IBM are really 
just providing their components and not 
super involved in how it fits in. 

We developed a personal relationship 
with all those people that’s equal to the 
closest project work we have done. 

DA VID: Sounds like it was a lot of fun. 
BILL: It was. Everybody around here en- 
joyed it a great deal. In a way, we always 
wanted there to be a definitive end to the 
thing, but even today there’s some work 
going on. It’s not like there is just one 
celebration. Boy, there has been some 
great ... a lot of fun relaxation w hen 
we've hit various milestones. I don't 
know, the announcement was probably 

the best one because all the way through 
the project there was this aura that IBM 
couldn’t even say to us that the project 
would be introduced. They always had to 
say, “You realize this may get cancelled 
any day and we’ll just call you up and tell 
you to put all those confidential pieces of 
paper in a box and mail them back down 
here and don't call us again." I don't 
know how long that was really true, but 
that is really what they had to say to us. 
To know that the thing would really see 
the light of day and people would have a 
chance to evaluate what we had done 
really made us feel good. 

We expect over the next year or two 
when people have really looked into the 
machine to see what it can do they will 
be increasingly impressed. Just like high 
resolution graphics on the Apple, there is 
a lot of capability there that will only un- 

fold itself over a fair period of time. Some 
of that is the stuff we put in there and 
that will be neat. 

I don’t read about the TRS-80 any 
more because it does seem like a long 
time ago and in comparison it would be 
pretty easy to make fun of it, but the year 
or two after we did that project every 
time we would see somebody disassembl- 
ing the BASIC or figuring out some little 
trick we thought it was really exciting. 

It's the combination. Software is a 
great combination between artistry and 
engineering. When you fmaliy get done 
and get to appreciate what you have done 
it is like a pan of yourself that you've put 
together. I think a lot of the people here 
feel that way. 

DAVID: That's quite a statement. Thank 
you for the inteniew. 


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All human beings, regardless of class, want and 
need some contact, some sense of being con- 
nected to the human race. Computerized com- 
munications systems offer a special kind of super- 
connectivity to old and young, experts and hunt- 
and-peck typists alike. 

All sentient beings have the inalienable right to: 
>~>A computer terminal 

— A private account on a communication system 
— Clear and well-indexed instructions on how to 
use that system 

— A telecommunications network local dial-up 

— An uninterruptible power supply 
— A secretary of the opposite sex to organize and 
Me the output 

~And three square messages a day 

Terminals of all countries, unite! . 

Network Systems, The CIA And The Electronic Grail: 
A Writer’s Quest For Perfectly Flexible Text 

— IBM’s Asynchronous Communications 
Adapter or an equivalent, and a "mo- 
dem ' ' connecting it lo the leiephone 
network— plus a simple program for com- 
munications. you can make an IBM Per- 
sonal Computer reach beyond its desk or 
tabtetop to communicate with the wortd. 
Communications Editor Ciifford Barney 
(who atso edits Computer Setu ork .Sews) 
uilt report regularly on bow PC users can 
exploit this potential for outreach. In bis 
first contribution. Barney shares some of 
bis own experiences in this arena and 
weighs its significance for the future. 

Clifford Barney 

One day in 1967. 1 called at the Stanford 
Research Insitute to interview a computer 
scientist named Douglas Rngelbart about 
an advanced form of electronic informa- 
tion system he was reported to he 
developing. I knew little about such 
systems but I hoped that the meeting might 
provide the substance of a news story for 
my employer, Etectronics magazine. 

Ml hen I entered his office Engelbart was 
sitting at one of the first cathode ray tube 
terminals I had seen. As we talked he 
began filling the CRT with screens of text, 
which he would subject to various editing 
tricks and then dispatch God knew where, 

all the while keeping up a running com- 
mentary in a vocabulary I didn't quite 
understand, concerning statements and 
"plexes" and branches and groups. 

I watched for two hours as Engelbart 
played his machine and explained how it 
was that he could do these wonderful 
things. However it was no use: I couldn't 
follow what he was doing, so I didn't see 
what made it so wonderful. What made 
the text look like thafr W here did it come 
from and where did it go? VI hat was a 
plex. really? So I wasted our afternoon, 
though I don't think Engelbart minded; he 
seemed to have a wonderful time showing 

off his creation. He called it Online 
System, abbreviated to NLS. 

I now realize that, like Parsifal botching 
his first chance at the Grail, I had been 
vouchsafed an early glimpse of electronic 
text, but had failed to recognize it. To me, 
at that time, computers processed only 
data. Engelbart had shown me English; 
not programs, not calculations, not col- 
umns of figures, but words and sentences. 
And though a writer by trade, I bad been 
too disoriented to understand them. 

It was years later that I next en- 
countered electronic text. This time it 
resided on the disc drives at the Pro- 
vidence [R.IJ/oumo/, where I was doing a 
turn on the copy desk. The/oama/hadin- 
stalled an advanced text handling system 
that integrated incoming copy from wire 
services and the paper’s own bureaus, and 
directed it to the proper departments in 
the newspaper; news, sports, features, 
etc. I used a CRT that could edit rings 
around the oldfashioned pastepot, 
scissors and soft lead pencil. And the the 
text editor not only hyphenated and 
justified the finished story but even 
counted my headlines for me, a job I had 
always had to do myself. Newspaper 
headlines have to fit in their allotted 
measure, and generations of copy editors 
had made sure that they did by counting 
the letters and spaces. If the head was too 
long, you had to rewrite it. The type 
wasn’t rubber, the printers used to sneer, 
it was lead. Now the computer did the 
counting and the type might as well have 
been rubber; because if my electronically 
written headline was only a hair too long, 
I could shrink the type a little, say from 42 
point to “4 1 point, ” a type size that strict- 
ly speaking did not exist. Then the head 
would fit and no one would ever notice 
(though a sampling of middle-aged men, 
eyesight beginning to falter, may have 
wondered they were squinting at the 

Still digesting this second experience of 
electronic text, I immediately plunged into 
the third, several months of messaging 
and conferencing on Murray Turoff s ex- 
perimental Electronic Information Ex- 
change System (EIES) network. It was 
while I was entering EIES’s logical gardens 
that the electronic ephiphany occurred: 
After 25 years of my pounding typewriter, 
the typewriter started writing back. 

“INITIAL CHOICE?” it said. (This is 
EIES's method of leading you down the 
garden path, i.e. choosing from its initial 

I was hooked. The damn thing was 
finally beginning to share the work. Pro- 
perly teased, it would cough up endless 
text without my typing a line. About time. 

I thought, and proceeded to run it through 
a few tests. EIES Is extensively 
documented, and I spent a good part of the 
first few weeks online studying its strange 
rules for manipulating electronic text. 
There seemed to be a lot of them, and their 
purpose wasn’t always clear to me. But I 
did begin to get a sense of what Doug 
Engelbart had been talking about more 
than a decade before. 

NLS, and the newspaper system, and 
EIES, had been designed for the manipula- 
tion of text, not data. The etymologies of- 
fer a clear distinction: data is what is 
“given,” raw information, August sales 
or altitude in feet, text is literally a ‘ ' weav- 
ing” of semantic and syntactic patterns. 
“Text” and “textile” have the same root. 

So the interpretation, and even the 
representation, of text is a multidimen- 
sional task. Yet text in electronic form still 
exhibits all of the plasticity of electronic 
data in that it may easily be edited, 
transmitted, merged and searched. 

As a writer, particularly one being paid 
to listen, I might have realized the 
significance of what Engelbart was telling 
me. Computerized text systems put com- 
munications and information handling on 
a new level. Once Englebart got NLS air- 
borne, Electronics magazine might never 
be the same. 

Not that print was going out of style. 
NLS has since turned commercial as the of- 
fice automation system marketed by Tym- 
share under the name “Augment”; if not 
exactly flying, it has at least made the tran- 
sition from an experimental system to a 
practical tool. Yet Electronics continues to 
flourish, faHer and more authoritative 
than ever. Electronic text does not replace 
print, but it does supplant it as the general 
form of recorded information. Print 
becomes one of the forms of display. 

The medieval monks who transmitted 
their culture a thousand years ago by co- 
pying Biblical texts in the Book of Kells 
would today be making them machine- 
readable. That way they could be stored 
online and accessed by the electronic ver- 
sion of a concordance, a data base com- 
mand language. The service would in- 
evitably be called Scripturenet. You could 
interrogate it and then salt and pepper 
your prose with proverbs and learned 
references, downloaded from the net and 
merged with your novel, your business 
report or your letter home. 

The Online Marketplace 

So far as I know Scripturenet does not 
yet exist, but dozens of its functional 
counterparts are competing in what is 
coming to be known as the “network 
marketplace,” described by Herb Dordick 
of use’s Annenberg School of Com- 

munications as a locus where “products 
and services can be advertized; buyers and 
sellers located; ordering, billing and 
delivery of services can be facilitated; and 
all manner of transactions can be consum- 
mated, including wholesale, retail, 
brokering and mass distribution.” 

Targeted as customers in this 
marketplace are those of us who have ac- 
cess to computer terminals — which in- 
cludes every IBM Personal Computer 
equipped with the Asynchronous Commu- 
nications Adapter, or telephone connec- 
tion device, and communications soft- 
ware. The network marketplace at first of- 
fered raw computer power and then 
developed online data bases, remotely 
searchable. But much of what is hawked 
today as “information services” consists 
of electronic text that you can access over 
telephone lines from a computer terminal. 

What is so special about this medium? 
In Toward Paperless Information Systems, 
F. Wilfred Lancaster gave the fullest ex- 
pression to the importance of machine- 
readability as the key attribute of elec- 
tronic text. Lancaster, a librarian, helped 
design the SAFE information system for 
the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The 
function of SAFE is to give CIA analysts 
sharable access to remote data bases and 
files. They can construct private informa- 
tion bases composed partly of their own 
files and partly of files shared on a net- 
work. And the whole system depends on 
putting information into machine- 
readable form, permitting easy creation, 
editing, and transmission of text. 

Intelliscncc Gees Public 

On the heels of SAFE comes the private 
CIA, a multinational “worldwide in- 
telligence service” called the Interna- 
tional Reporting and Information System, 
or IRIS (goddess of the rainbow and Zeus’s 
messenger, according to the indispensable 
Robert Graves). IRIS has hired the services 
of a former British prime minister, Edward 
Heath, as a mascot signifying respectabili- 
ty. The organization will provide commer- 
cial information service, not political es- 

Nevertheless, "IRIS is to be built 
around a powerful computer, the opera- 
tion of which is being modeled on the one 
used by the OA in Langley, according to 
the Washington Post (emphasis added). 
Lancaster’s prototypical analysts, their 
computer screens trained on all the 
world’s information, or at least as much of 
it as IRIS can get into machine- readable 

You and I don't have the same access to 
resources, and our equipment may be 
unsophisticated relative to SAFE'S, or 
IRIS'S, but we can do essentially the same 

thing on a PC. Electronic text plus net- 
work connections gives the individual un- 
precedented communications capability. 

Einar Stefferud, a consultant who 
specializes in office automation, rates tex- 
tual information systems in terms of the 
connectivity and the mobility of the infor- 
mation therein. In personal terms, you 
can see it in the mix of flies that scrolls 
across your CRT. It’s different for 
everyone: now a program to track cash 
flow, now production statistics, now a 
Dow Jones report, now electronic mail 
from a colleague. There Is a single display 
space for all of the Information: you can 
append the cash flow file to the produc- 
tion report, draw your own conclusions, 
and send an electronic message to your 
broker. In this repsect. network services 
become one more input to your computer, 
just as your stereo set can accept input 
from a remote FM station as well as an 
online record turntable 

The services have yet to mature. A clue 
to the present state of the art in informa- 
tion services is the price of hooking up to 
IRIS: S20,000 to $200,000 according to 
the Post. Useful databases and sophisit- 
cated text software tend to be expensive. 

Yet the primitive text systems available 
today do provide capabilities for message- 
sending and ‘ asynchronous conferenc- 
ing’ ’ (meaning not all parties need be elec- 

tronically present at one 
time) — capabilities that were simply not 
to be had ten years ago. A shared text 
space makes the network something of a 
library in which everyone can write the 
books, and a clubhouse where colleagues 
can gather. 

Messaging and conferencing — in which 
the text is created by the user, not the 
seller — are not expensive; but they are so 
new that business management is only 
beginning to see how they can be used. In 
organizing commercial computer con- 
ferences, I have found even the most 
technically advanced computer and inte- 
grated circuit manufacturers to be wary of 
investigating computer-mediated com- 
munication via electronic text. They’d 
rather consider video conferencing, 
which is a wildly expensive replacement 
for a face-to-face meeting. 

Epilos: NLS Revisited 

My typewriter now sits on a closet 
shelf; there are times when it wouid be 
handy, but it’s too bulky to keep around. 
As a writer, 1 have become addicted to the 
electronic method of creating, storing and 
transmitting text. I have experimented on 
a number of text systems, both online and 
standalone. I have even had a chance to 
use NLS itself; I too have been able to sum- 
mon and dispatch screensful of informa- 

tion and mystify my friends; and 1 have 
tracked a “plex" to its electronic Iair(too 
complex to describe here), 

NLS proved to be a special taste, like 
olives, and an expensive one at that. But 
there are now many other text systems 
available; every personal computer comes 
with a word processor. So many people 
have been exposed to electronic text that 
it has spawned a new discipline, “Elec- 
tronic English,’’ which has been taught 
for credit by Dave Hughes at Colorado 
Technical College. There are those who 
claim that the medium actually improves 
verbal proficiency. Others are skeptical; 
one dissenter has noted darkly that just as 
the chief effect of the invention of the 
typewriter was the proliferation of the 
busines letter, so hypertext might bury us 
in well-formatted nonsense. 

But this argument puts the new wine in 
old bottles. The potential of electronic text 
is not to be exploited in asked it to do what 
is already done well, or well enough. That 
is a "horseless carriage’’ approach that 
we see in the marketing of computer mes- 
sage systems as “electronic mail.” (They 
are really systems for sharing files, and 
they perform many functions having no- 
thing to do with mail.) 

It may be that in order to be properly 
recognized, the medium needs a catchy 
name. “Elertronic text” is pedantic, and 
“machine-readable” too technical. Ted 
Nelson, the visionary author of Computer 
Lib/Dream Machines, coined the term 
“hypertext,” which has become in-group 
slang for the kind of multidimensional, 
nonsequential writing that electronic text 
produces. Another candidate is “superli- 
teracy,” a label that makes people ner- 
vous until they find out how many of the 
super literates can’t even spell. “Aug- 
ment’ ’ was Englebart’s own choice for the 
commercial name of NLS. He felt that the 
medium could augment the ability of an in- 
formation worker in the same way that a 
lever augments physical strength. 

A sentiment like Engelbart’s may have 
inspired the author of the “superliterate 
manifesto” that has been woven into the 
EIES hypertext (Conference 52 on Superli- 
terate Societies, EIES). This message (see 
box) is not elitist at all. but a vision of 
what might be possible from the medium. 

The manifesto is not your ordinary ac- 
count of the potential of computers and 
computerized text. Yet it does hint that 
there are more aspects of this new world 
than we have imagined so far. The next 
round will be greatly influenced by the 
thousands of personal computer users 
who are just beginning to experience the 
medium, including, presumably, the 
readers of this text. Your contributions are 
eagerly awaited. 




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New service lets you send messages to Telex, TVIX, even “fax” machines 
from your PC. 

Illustration by Don Nace 

vice, IBM Personal Computer users can 
now send electronic messages to any of 
several hundred thousand locations with 
otherwise-incompatible receiving equip- 
ment, according to Dick Sherwin of 
Graphic Scanning Corporation. Sherwin 
says the accessible devices include tele- 
typewriters (TWX), Telex and facsimilie 
machines, and specialized office word 

The Freedom Network, a service of Gra- 
phic Scanning’s Graphnet subsidiary, has 
been in partial operation for several 
months, and Sherwin said it was sched- 
uled for full operation January I. The 
Freedom Network can receive text from 
any communications-equipped PC, trans- 
late or modify the data to suit 1 10 different 
variations of hardware, software and 
communications standards, and then re- 
transmit the message to the designated re- 
ceiving equipment and location. Cost to 
the sender will be about 30 cents per 100 
words transmitted. 

Sherwin says users of the Freedom Net- 
work will be able to send electronic mes- 
sages to about 140,000 TWX and Telex ter- 
minals in North America, and to locations 
equipped with many popular models of 
"fax” machines such as the Xerox 410 
and 3M 600A. They will also be able to 
send text to offices with communication- 
equipped word processors from CPT, Lex- 
itron, Wang and others; international Tel- 
ex will be possible too, Sherwin said. 

The Freedom Network translates and 
retransmits messages to TWX and Telex lo- 
cations at the time they are sent. Messages 
to other kinds of equipment are stored in 
Graphnet' s computer for later resending, 
and can only be stored for destinations 
already registered with the Freedom Net- 
work. Access to The Freedom Network 
will be available by local telephone call 
from most large U.S. cities, according to 
Sherwin. Cost to use the service, over and 
above transmission time, is S5 a month. 
There is no initial fee. The 30-cents/lOO 
words rale (Sherwin did not define a 
"word") applies to most transmissions, 
and remains constant at all hours. Telex 

transmission is slightly higher. Users must 
also bear any cost for their phone calls to 
The Freedom Network. 

Though Graphnet’s target customers 
for the service are "Fortune 1000 com- 
panies,” Sherwin said the company 
would not turn away "onesy-twosy” 
business from individual Personal Com- 
puter users. However he said credit 
references might be requested before an 
account was established. 

Calculations suggest the cost to use the 
Freedom Network will be very competitive 
with that of express delivery for moderate 
quantities of text. A business document of 
eight to ten average-sized pages could be 
sent via The Freedom Network for the 
same price as a letter sent by the Post 
Office’s Express Mail Service. Anything 
shorter would be less expensive, and in 
any case delivery would lake place in a 
matter of minutes rather than overnight. 
(The comparison is inexact because mes- 
sages sent by The Freedom Network pre- 

sently cannot include signatures, graphic 
material, etc ). 

If you would like to check out some 
places you could transmit to via The Free- 
dom Network, you might consider pur- 
chasing a directory of Telex and TWX sub- 
scribers in North America. This volume, 
available from Western Union, is set up 
like a phone directory, with both alpha- 
betical and classified sections. Also, Sher- 
win says "thousands of subscribers, in- 
cluding many major companies” already 
have electronic mail addresses assigned 
on The Freedom Network. A printed direc- 
tory of subscribers is in the works, and 
there is a 24-hour "Directory Assistance” 
service as well. 

“We are trying to make electronic com- 
munication as easy as possible for 
people,” Sherwin said. 

—Jim Ediln 

The Freedom Setuvrk — Graphic Scanning Corp.. 
329 Alfred At'e.. Teaneck. Sew Jersey 07666 
800/631 1608 

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Carl Warren 

immediately' you might think of games — 
games that fill the screen with strange be- 
ings, make buzzing sounds and even taik. 
Games have always been a mainstay of 
personai microcomputer systems, and the 
IBM Personal Computer is ideally suited 
for the electronic illusions. But even 
though the PC has technically superior 
features capable of supporting exciting 
and unique game-ware, some believe that 
games — particularly of the arcade type — 
will be the least desired programs for the 

Market analysts, and IBM, don’t see the 
Personal Computer as being just another 
personal computer to be used to entertain 
the family on a cold winter's night. This 
computer, more so than others, is targeted 
as a productivity machine for the family 
and manager of today, rather than a 
sophisticated device to garner points by 
‘chomping’ gumdrops or cookies or what- 
ever a game master can dream up. 

Playins the “What-lf Game 

But gaming is more than just shooting 
down alien beings from outer space, 
asserts Dick Ainsworth, creative director 
at The Image Producers, a program devel- 
opment company in Northbrook, Illinois. 
Ainsworth believes that users of the IBM 
computer will want to play true-to-life 
sophisticated games, like making projec- 
tions on the outcome of certain business 
decisions. “Playing the what-if game is 
more exciting than any arcade game I can 
think of,” says Ainsworth. 

Regardless of how you define a game. 

Carl Warren, author of over 600 
articles. tuH) books and a num- 
ber of technical manuals. isa Western Editor for EDN 
magazine, and contributes regularly on microcom- 
puter topics to seteral other publications. 

Graphics resolution, color and animation powers shown in this IBM demonstration should inspire 
game designers 

the key is excitement. And by employing 
the unique display and control capabilities 
of the IBM computer, game designers will 
be able to create some unique packages for 
it. Partly supporting this thesis is David 
Ahl, publisher of Creative Computing, 
Morristown, New Jersey. He contends that 
buyers of the IBM computer will want 
games, but will demand more intellectual 
games like Chess, Othello, or Backgam- 
mon. “The machine lends itself very nice- 
ly to this type of game,” says Ahl. 

Lcarnins By Playins 

If you use IBM as the gauge, Ahl is cor- 
rect. Intellectual, tutorial style games are 
the ideal offering. Currently, IBM is offer- 
ing a series aimed at teaching through 
game techniques. Fact Track (t90, disk- 
ette) covers basic arithmetic skills and is 
organized by level of difficulty. In the 
same genre are Arithmetic Games One and 

Two. The first set has two games called 
Beano and Rocket that are designed to 
refine your math skills while playing an 
enjoyable game. Set number 2, takes the 
method further and includes basic logic 
skills. These last two packages are priced 
at $60 each on diskette, and were devel- 
oped by Science Research Associates for 

But number games aren’t the only thing 
IBM is offering. The fourth package in the 
new series is Typing Tutor ($25) which 
comes to IBM from Microsoft Consumer 
Products. This product, created by The 
Image Producers, uses the concept of 
automated teaching via game skills, and is 
designed to teach you how to type or im- 
prove your typing speed and accuracy. 

The tutorial/game technique may be 
more the rule than the exception accord- 
ing to some industry watchers. Already 
managers at local ComputerLand stores 


are finding that buyers of the new 
machine are asking for software that can 
be useful over a long period of time. They 
report few requests for arcade games. 
Customers will accept, however, those 
packages that teach as well as play a game. 

Creative Computing’s Ahl has taken a 
different approach with three games: 
Blister Bali, Torax, and Tsuanami, all of 
which are in the final development stage 
for the PC. He points out that these aren't 
copies of other popular games, but are 
original arcade games that challenge the 
player and, for that matter, the machine. 

Retrofits by March 

Ahl and others expect a spate of retro- 
fitted games (adaptations of those design- 
ed for other computers) to come available 
for the PC as early as March, with more 
sophisticated games coming on the scene 9 
to 12 months later. 

The reason for the time lag? Program- 
mers have to become familiar with the 
machine and develop ways to take advan- 
tage of all its capabilities. Moreover, even 
with the development cycle aside, there is 
wide speculation that most game designers 
will offer their product to IBM for first 
evaluation, with only a small number tak- 
ing the game directly to market. By offer- 
ing first to IBM, software publishers will 
have to live with an evaluation cycle 
which could last as long as 4 to 9 months, 
depending on the package. The non-IBM 
method may reduce the time it takes to get 
the product to market, but direct-selling 
game publishers may find it difficult to 
locate the right audience. 

To assist in the development of all types 
of software, IBM is providing would-be 
authors with full technical support — even 
to providing a specific engineering contact 
to answer questions about the operation 
of the machine, and giving detailed infor- 
mation about the PC's technical details. 

But even with giant IB.M providing a 
great deal of assistance, potential game 
authors may run into possible legal trou- 
ble in their retrofitting efforts. Should an 
author market a game similar in display 
and playing concept to an arcade game 
owned by Atari, for example, (which also 

ow ns the rights to all Bally games) that 
author can expect problems. Atari has 
gone to great lengths, including filing 
video tape representations of the games 
with the copyright office to protect its 
rights. What this will ultimately mean is 
some of the games you now find in coin 
operated arcades won't be available on the 
Personal Computer. What you can prob- 
ably expect though is for software com- 
panies like DakinS Corp., Denver CO, to 
retrofit their popular Kaves of Karkhan to 
w ork on the IBM PC, and other game com- 
panies to follow suit as quickly as possible. 

A Twe-Faced Machine 

The IB.M personal computer appears to 
be a dichotomy at this early date, since it 
offers high-resolution color graphics, 
speedy screen updates good for anima- 
tion, a flexible game port for handling 
game controls, plus the power and overall 
styling to fit business applications. All of 
which make the machine ideal both for 
games and business purposes. But Wayne 
Green, for one, isn't convinced that any- 
one has really figured out what the ma- 
chine is to be used for. Green. President of 
the Peterborough, New Hampshire, com- 
pany that publishes Instant Software, 
believes it’s still too early to make any 
broad statements about the machine. 
Moreover, he isn't sure if it is games or 
business applications that will be impor- 
tant. He does point out. however, that 
games are usually popular and that even- 
tually Instant Software will offer a variety 
of packages, with games being included. 
But what those games might be. Green 
would not yet guess. 

Conceivably, the powerful IBM PC may 
open up a whole new era of game-ware. 
Don’t be surprised to see, in the next 
several months, games that are based on 
real-life simulations, or that teach com- 
plex subjects in the form of a game. Ac- 
cording to Loren Werner, owner of a Los 
Angeles. California based technical 
documentation firm: "I expect that by 
1983 we’ll be creating highly technical 
documentation on the IBM computer, and 
using gaming techniques to develop an 
understanding of the topics." 







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^ User’s Report: 


Easy¥firiter word precessins prosram, version 1.00. 

EASYWRITER, produced by Information 
Unlimited Software, program by fobn 
Draper and Matthew McIntosh. IBM Per- 
sonal Computer Word Processing Series. 

delays, IBM’s first and, to date, only word 
processing program for its Personai Com- 
puter has finally been released. What will 
the average writer discover once that paie 
blue binder has been pulled out of its slip- 

The first impression is likely to be that 
the EasyWriter program does in fact live 
up to its name. The documentation fol- 
lows the superb format of the other PC 
manuals, being elegantly printed and 
clearly written, and making good use of 
boidface headings and exampies printed in 
contrasting green ink. I was able to sit 
down and read through the entire body of 
the manual (84 pages, including a tutoriai) 
in about an hour and come away feeling 
that I had a fairly good handle on the way 
the program worked, 

EasyWriter is organized on a three-tier 
system. Upon loading the program and 
storage diskette, the File System menu ap- 
pears on the screen, listing sixteen avail- 
able commands for editing, saving, revis- 
ing, linking and printing files, plus infor- 
mation about the current file in memory 
and the capacity of the storage diskette 
[fig. 1]. The prompt “COMMAND:" asks 
tor a one-letter instruction which is the 
first letter of the corresponding command. 
It’s all clear and straightforward, and 
even someone who’s not famiiiar with the 
concept of word processing files should be 
able to find his or her way without undue 

The “E” command gets you into the 
second tier of the program, the Edit mode, 
which is where all entry and revising of 
text is done. If no file is in memory, you’re 
presented with a blank screen and a blink- 
ing cursor, ready to start writing. If 
you’ve already loaded a file into memory, 
the screen displays the text at the start of 
the file. 

This part of the program makes excel- 
lent use of the cursor-movement and 

Andrew Fluesciman 

special function keys of the PC’s key- 
board. Individual keys move the cursor in 
all four directions, scroll the text up or 
down a “page” (actually, a screen’s 
worth), move to the home position on the 
screen, to tab stops and to the end of the 
file, allow insertions and make deletions. 
Using the CONTROL key in conjunction 

EasyWriter “Block 
Move" Tips 

For those of you who are ambi- 
tious, I can pass on a few block- 
moving tips. First, you don't have to 
insert lines above and below the 
block, as the manual states. You can 
isolate a block in the middle of a para- 
graph simply by entering insert mode 
and placing the block markers where 
you want them. You also don't have 
to go through the double CTRL-J 
routine at the end of the copy shift. 
Once will suffice, before the move. 
(Why the screen gives the ambiguous 
messages "BLOCK COPY ON " — 
" BLOCK COPY OFF " is a mystery.) 

On the other hand, make sure that 
you do move the cursor to the line (or 
the character) in front of the first 
block marker before hitting CTRL-J 
and CTRL-C. If you don't, you'll get a 
"BLOCK TOO LARGE' message, 
regardless of whether the block is 
really within the ,4,500-character 
limit. This bogus error message 
threatened my sanity for a while. 
Preserve yours by proceeding very 

One final tip: After CTRL-C, and 
before moving your copy block, 
delete the trailing block marker and 
paragraph-end by hitting the DEL key 
twice(.steps 16 and 1' in the 21-step 
routine above). Then delete the 
leading marker by doing the same 
thing (moves 20 and 21) once the 
copy has been placed in the new l(K'a- 
tion. This will save you undue cursor 


with these enables advancing the cursor a 
word at a time, deleting lines of text, and 
moving to the beginning of the file. 

Hitting the F3 special function key in- 
serts a blank line below the cursor. F5 de- 
letes a word (including the space pre- 
ceding it). F6 “undeletes” previously 
deleted words, a letter at a time. All of 
these commands are logical and easy to 
learn, requiring in most cases a single 
keystroke that doesn’t involve an alpha- 
numeric key. Once again, a first-time user 
should have a much more comfortable ex- 
perience starting to write with Easy- 
Writer’s simple commands, compared to 
the many multi-keystroke commands resi- 
dent on a program like WordStar. 

If you hit the key marked FI, you’ll see 
the Help menu [fig. 2J, which is displayed 
above the text being edited and which 
describes all the special function keys. The 
F2,-7,-8, and -9 keys control commands 
for moving blocks of copy and controlling 
printing(more about those later). The FIO 
key takes you back to the File System 
menu, while the F4 key takes you to the 
third tier of the program, the Additional 

(Before moving on, I must note my first 
quibble. The Help menu is very easy to call 
up, but it gives no clue as to how to get rid 
of it. The manual does note, on page 5-1, 
that the display can be discontinued by 
hitting the FI key again, but someone in 
need of instant on-screen help isn’t likely 
to want to go paging through a looseleaf 
binder to figure out how to get 

The Additional Commands menu [fig. 
3[, displayed above the text being edited, 
lists commands which perform a variety of 
formatting chores. As with the File System 
menu, all the commands require single- 
letter inputs that correspond with the first 
letter of the command. This time, we are 
told how to exit (hit the ENTER key). 

These three menus cover all the Easy- 
Writer commands, except for a group of 
"Imbedded Commands,” which control 
print formatting. These are adequately 
described in the manual, but it would have 

continued. . 

EASYWRITEB continued. 

been convenient to include them in a 
fourth menu that could be called up on the 
screen. I also wish that the three modes of 
operation weren't set up on a hierarchical 
basis. (To get from Additional Commands 
to the File System, you have to first pass 
through the Edit mode.) In operation, 
there are many times when you do want to 
execute one of the formatting commands 
immediately following a file instruction 
— without taking a tour of the whole pro- 

Those are really just more quibbles, 
though. Initially. I was truly impressed 
with EasyWriter as a very friendly pro- 
gram that could be learned quickly by 
someone without an extensive word pro- 
cessing background. It seemed like an 
ideal program for a casual correspondent, 
temporary worker, writing student, or 
simply for someone not yet convinced that 
word processing can, indeed, help them 
write faster and better. 

Unfortunately, EasyWriter contains a 
few very annoying inconveniences and 
some very serious traps for the innocent 
computer writer. They start to reveal 
themselves when you move from under- 
standing the program (which is easy) to 
actually writing with it, which is. well, 
not so easy. I’ve given names to some of 
these programmed gremlins. 

“The Insert Phantom”: 

When writing or editing text, hitting 
the Insert key lets you insert text in front 
of the cursor. This feature operates just 
about as with other w/p programs, except 
that it’s painfully slow, especially if the 
screen is filled w ith a considerable amount 
of text. The solution, the manual tells us, 
is to create extra space by using the F,^ key 
to insert blank lines in the text. 

All well and good. Hit F.S six limes, and 
all the text below the cursor is dutifully 
pushed down six lines. Start typing in that 
blank space and you'll see your new text 
filling up the first line. Everything looks 
fine so far. but appearances are deceiving. 
Reach the end of the first line and you’ll 
see that blank space snap back together, 
gobbling up a line of your elegant prose in 
the process. 

Woops! The manual does caution you, 
on page 5-"’, that "if you forget to press 
INS before in.serting text, you destroy text 
to the right of the cursor .” But believe me, 
after weeks of writing with this program. 
I’m still forgetting and letting my eyes 
deceive me and gobbling up my words, 
and I’ll wager you will too — and so will 
your temporary worker and your w riting 

Well, let’s say the Insert Phantom is an 

continued. . . 

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EASYWRITER continued. . . 

inconvenience. Meet his cousin, “The 
Enter Demon." The problem with this 
gremlin is that it’s not satished with doing 
just one job. Hitting the ENTER key in text 
mode puts a little eighth-note symbol on 
the screen and moves the cursor down to 
the next line. You use this key to indicate 
the end of a paragraph, and it works just 
fine for that chore. 

But you also have to use the ENTER key 
to turn off the insert mode. This is 
needlessly confusing. (A much more 
logical arrangement would have been to 
use the INS key as a toggle switch — hit it 
once to turn insert on and once again to 
turn it off.) If you’re adding text in the in- 
sert mode (which you sometimes have to 
do, as explained above) and come to the 
end of a paragraph, you hit ENTER once 
and it only takes you out of insert mode. 
You have to hit it again to place your 
paragraph-end marker. Then you have to 
remember to hit INS again before continu- 
ing — otherwise you’ll be gobbled up by 
the Insert Phantom. 

That’s not all. You also have to hit 
ENTER after each of the special formatting 
commands. If you’re inserting these com- 
mands in your text, as you’re likely to do, 
you have to go through the same double- 
strike routine described above. You also 
then have to deal with the extra line added 
by ENTER, deleting it with a CONTROL- 
END. If this is beginning to sound confus- 
ing, you’re right. 

The Enter Demon presents another 
minor problem. How to insert a para- 
graph-end in the middle of text? The 
logical way would be to hit INS, then 
ENTER. But doing that just turns off the in- 
sert mode again. A writer who investi- 
gates this conundrum will discover that 
the ENTER key has insert rules of its own. 
All you have to do is place the cursor 
wherever you want the paragraph-end. 
Hitting ENTER automatically inserts the 
marker. But will your temporary secretary 
want to take the time to figure this out 
before he or she begs to have the Correct- 
ing Selectric back? 

Tkc Alisnins Black Hole 

I could go on with more inconven- 
iences, but there are also some very 
serious problems lurking between the 
bytes. If you’ve already got a PC and 
EasyWriter on hand, load a storage 
diskette, call up a file of text (make sure 
it’s saved!), and let me introduce you to 
the “Aligning Black Hole” 

Do the following: 

1. Hit END, to get to the last text on 

your file. 

2. Hit ENTER. A paragraph-end marker 

will appear and the cursor will move 

down to the next line. 

3. Hit ENTER once more. A paragraph- 
end marker will appear on the next 
line and the cursor will move down 

4. Now delete that marker by moving 
the cursor up and hitting the DEL key. 

5. Now re-align your text by hitting F4 
and typing “A.” 

Unless your copy of EasyWriter con- 
tains a revised version of the program I’ve 
got, you’re now on your way to the Black 
Hole. First you'll see the program go 
through its regular aligning routine. Next, 
you’ll see a little happy-face marker that 
indicates the end of the file. But the com- 
mand prompt will indicate that the pro- 
gram is still aligning. And it will continue 
to be stuck in align mode, with no possible 
exit, until there’s a power blackout, or un- 
til you reset the system (and erase current 
memory!) with the CTRL-ALT-DEL keys. 

Preventive medicine: 

Check for phantom lines at the end of 
your file by hitting END and noticing 
whether the cursor is more than one line 
below the last line of text in your file. If 
so, hit CTRL-END several times before 
aligning. To be safe, always be sure your 
text is saved before trying to re-align, and 
pray that your enthusiastic student 
doesn't stumble upon this black hole on 
his or her own. 

I’ve also encountered the “Disk Format 
Charlatan." More than just occasionally, 
when moving from one File System com- 
mand to another. I’ve received an error 
message that says “DISK NOT INITIAL- 

If this spine-chilling notice appears on 
your screen, don’t panic and type “Y,” 
because, of course, you’ll erase every- 
thing on your disk while re-formatting. 
Instead, type “N,” and you'll be in- 
ETTE, THEN PRESS ENTER.” Ignore the in- 
struction and simply pull out your work- 
ing storage diskette and re-load it. Be 
prepared to get the same error message 
two or more times before the program 
reads your disk correctly. 

I've experienced this glitch on both my 
disk drives, which continue to work flaw- 
lessly with other PC software. My very 
strong suspicion is that the problem is in- 
herent in the EasyWriter program. I'd be 
interested in having this problem confirm- 
ed by other users. Meanwhile, warn 
everyone who’s likely to be working with 
your prized diskettes about this peril. 

The last gremlin I’ll describe is the 
“Block Move Blockhead” Plain and sim- 
ple, the block copy-moving feature of this 
program is a disaster. It takes a minimum 

of twenty-one commands and well over a 
minute to successfully shift a paragraph 
from one spot to another (place cursor, 
F3, INS, F8, ENTER, ENTER, move cursor, 
F3, F8, ENTER, ENTER, move cursor back, 
cursor, CTRL-G, DEL, DEL). I don’t mess 
with this unless absolutely necessary. {See 
box for tips on using the block-move 
feature more easily , ) 

“The Hard Copy Jungle" 

When you’re ready to print your text, 
you might find yourself in “The Hard 
Copy Jungle.” This part of the program 
also contains a number of minor and ma- 
jor inconveniences, plus some real gaffes. 

To EasyWriter’s credit, the program 
does present a useful array of what are 
termed Imbedded Commands. These per- 
mit formatting the printout by adjusting all 
four margins, numbering pages, adding 
three separate running headings (which 
can be positioned anywhere on the page), 
and providing for single or double 
spacing, variable sheet length, and single- 
sheet feed. Each of these Imbedded Com- 
mands must be inserted as a separate line 
of text, preceded by a period and ter- 
minated by a paragraph-end. 

The manual does not warn you, how- 
ever, that the presence of one of these Im- 
bedded Commands will cause one or more 
extra line feeds. You can devise ways to 
compensate and sneak these in at spots 
where the extra line doesn’t cause a prob- 
lem, but it’s really frustrating to have the 
very commands you use to control your 
format screw it up in the process. 

EasyWriter permits two modes of print- 
ing: from the File System Menu, via “H,” 
and from the Edit mode, via F2 . Occasion- 
ally, these produce slightly different 
results. Without trying to describe the 
phenomenon in detail, it seems that print- 
ing via “H” doesn't always reset the page 
numbering and heading features properly. 
I found printing from the Edit mode with 
F2 to be more reliable. 

EasyWriter comes configured to work 
with IBM’s 80 CPS Matrix Printer, which I 
haven’t tested. If you want to use another 
printer, such as one which prints letter- 
quality characters, there’s a Reconfigure 
routine on the Additional Commands 
menu, which lists various printer options. 
I tested the “Diablo or Qume type printer’ ' 
option to reconfigure for a TEC (C. Itoh) 
Starwriter FP-1 500-25, and all of the print 
features described in the EasyWriter 
manual (except sub- and superscripts) 
seemed to work fine. 

I didn’t have the same luck following 
the “Spinwriter type printer” option to 
reconfigure for an NEC Spinwriter 5530. 
Although the Reconfigure routine gives a 




E - 

H - 




F - 


P - 




G - 


R - 


1 - DRIVE A 


L - 


S - 


2 - DRIVE B 

FILE #: 4 M/S hdr FILESIZE- 145 AVAIL- 18415 XUSEI^ 20 DRIVE B 
LUnCS ARE: 4 12 3 

1 Eaywrtrl 13350 2 Esywrtr2 3603 3 Esywrtr3 1638 4 M/S hdr 145 
5 FIG hdr 58 

Fig. 1 — Easy Writer filesystem display, showing five flies stored on the current disk. 
(Printed by the author's PC system using the PrtSc command key.) 

Fig. 2— Help menu display. Below menu is format ’‘ruler" showing left and right margin settings. 

Fig. 3 — Additional commands display. 

bi-directional printing choice, that feature 
of the Spinwriter wasn't supported. Bold- 
face printing and underlining almost 
worked, but the line feeds kicked over too 
soon, or not at all. 

There was also a problem printing 
double-spaced with the Spinwriter. The 
printer produced single-spaced lines at the 
bottom of some pages, and always at the 
end of the file. I did manage to get around 
this by using the double-space switch on 
the front panel of the Spinwriter, instruct- 
ing EasyWriter to print single-spaced, and 
imbedding “.lines” and “. pagelines’’ 
commands that were half the value of 
what 1 really wanted. 

The EasyWriter program does allow for 
user-defined printer commands which 
might be able to remedy such problems. 
Nevertheless, someone did go through the 
motions of providing configuration rou- 
tines. I can only report that if you're a 
Spinwriter devotee and you prefer writing 

to studying printer manuals, you're not 
going to be pleased with what has been 

Some program evaluators may be sur- 
prised that, for all these cataloged grem- 
lins. I haven't mentioned some of Easy- 
Writer's obvious drawbacks: the indisput- 
able fact that it operates needlessly more 
slowly than the capabilities of the PC's 
hardware; its limitation of being able to 
handle no more than 31 files per disk 
(maximum 18,500 characters per file); the 
unavailability of certain formatting 
sophistications and of merge, sort and 
spell-check options; the fact that text is 
stored as specially-encoded data, making 
it difficult to transfer files to other pro- 
grams or systems. 

I haven't focused on those problems 
because I don't think EasyWriter was ever 
conceived as the Rolls-Royce of word- 
processing programs. Its simple com- 
mands and menu structure gave it the po- 

tential to be a Beetle — a reliable vehicle 
that could be driven by anyone, any- 
where, without having to call in a me- 
chanic every few miles. That it falls short 
of that potential is my real disappointment 
with the program. 

The software assembly lines are already 
humming, and PC users can expect to see 
compatible versions of the established 
word processing packages available 
within the coming months. Many of us 
with elaborate text-processing require- 
ments will probably snap them up, re- 
lieved. But many casual writers would 
really rather have a truly “easy writer" 
that adequately serves their needs. Unfor- 
tunately, version 1.00 of IBM Personal 
Computer EasyWriter is not quite that pro- 

Andrew Fluegelman is tbe at-autbor, uilb Jeremy 
Joan Heuvs. <y»'riiing In The Computer Age. to he 
pubUsbed by Ancbor/Douhteday in Fall H2 He is tbe 
subject of tbe PC Profile appearing elseu bere in ibis 


Dr. Larry Press 


PC-Lab Reports: What they are; what’s in the pipeline. 

Premiere Issue of PC came bard on the 
heels of the first wave of product introduc- 
tions for tie IBM Personal Computer, and 
did not permit completion of any product 
evaluations in the rigorous fashion we 
hope the ' PC-Lab ' ' banner will come to 
symbolize. In the foltowing article, PC-Lab 
Director Larry Press introduces the view- 
point and procedures that will guide prep- 
aration of articles under that banner, 
which will start appearing in the next 

— The Editors 


XX s you might have guessed from the 
tide, the PC-Lab section of this magazine 
will publish evaluations of products — 
both hardware and software — offered for 
use with the IBM Personal Computer. 

The title “PC-Lah” may make you think 
of a solemn group of researchers in white 
lab coats, carrying clipboards and con- 
ducting experiments: however, this image 
isn't really accurate. At the present time 
we have neither a lab facility nor solemn 
people with white coats. Initially. PC-Lab 
will rely on a cadre of on-call specialists 
who will conduct evaluations in their 
areas of expertise and write up the results 
for publication. Their work wili resuit in 
several types of articles 

Or. Larry Press. Director of PC- 
Lab. beads Small Systems Group, 
a product evaluation sertice in Santa Monica. Cali- 
fornia. He also edits The Personal Computer neu'slel- 
teref tbe Association for Computing Machinery. 



We will strive to make each of our 
reviews as objective and repeatable as 
possible. They will include the results of 
experiments, tables of capacities, feature 
checklists, documentation characteristics 
and general characteristics which are 
broader than 'features. " In a compara- 
tive review, we will run the same experi- 
ments and make the same measurements 
for each product, and present the results 
in a common format. 

For instance, in a comparative review 
of file management systems, we would es- 
tablish several typical data Files, and then 
measure such things as the time required 
to sort the file or retrieve a record, using 
each of the programs under review. The 
amount of disk space used to store the Files 
would also be reported. The capacities of 
the programs: maximum File and record 
sizes, number of fields per record, etc., 
would be tabulated. In considering fea- 
tures and characteristics of a file manage- 
ment program, we would note such things 
as the number of data types available, the 
types of indexing which are employed, 
and the ability to generate reports with 
various forms of headings and totals. 

One possible problem with this son of 
experimentally based evaluation is that it 
might overwhelm relatively non technical 
people. On the other hand there is the 
danger of oversimplifying complex pro- 
blems and of glossing over important data. 
This is a difficult tightrope to walk; 
however, I feel that publications such as 
Consumer Reports have shown that it is 
possible to inform people about products 
without talking down to them or boring 
them to death. If we do our job well, our 
comparative reviews will teach non-tech- 
nical readers in addition to helping them in 
making purchase decisions. 

Reviews of 
Single Products 

For several reasons, all of our reviews 
won’t be comparative. For one thing, at 
this early stage of the game, there are not a 
lot of similar products to compare. For in- 
stance, as of this writing, there is only one 
word processor available for the IB.M Per- 
sonal Computer. While there will soon be 
many products to review, the time and ef- 
fort required to conduct a comprehensive 
comparative evaluation of several pro- 
ducts is substantial. Time is required to 
plan the evaluation, to conduct experi- 
ments and then to interpret and write up 
the results. Where we think you will value 
timeliness more than comprehensiveness, 
we will conduct single-product evalua- 

The danger with a single-product re- 
view is that you get one person’s subjec- 
tive opinion. For example, a reviewer 
who had never used a word processor 
might love a very poor word processing 
program, since it was much better than us- 
ing a typewriter. Furthermore, some peo- 
ple are just more critical than others. One 
person’s “poor” might be another's 
"good. " We will attempt to forestall such 
problems by selecting reviewers who have 
experience with products similar to the 
one under review, and by continuing to 
emphasize experimentation and objectivi- 
ty. Instead of saying that a program is 
“good” or "average”, its speed can be 
measured and its characteristics listed. 

Our goal with these in-depth reviews 
will not be merely to evaluate a single pro- 
duct. but to establish a format which will 
be used in subsequent reviews of other 
products of the same type. With time, we 
will accumulate a group of standard re- 
ments will be run and the same character- 
istics and features tabulated even if differ- 

Photo by James McCaffrey 

ent people conduct the evaluations and 
they are done at different times. These 
would also be used if we were to even- 
tually publish a comparative review. Since 
they will be used in this manner, a good 
deal of time will be spent on planning, ex- 
perimentation and designing the report 
format for these reviews. 

Quick Looks, 

Previews and 
Reader Surveys 

We will also have a place for shorter, 
less formal articles. These will describe a 
quick look at a produa, based on using it 
for a few days, without doing much sys- 
tematic experimentation. Preview evalua- 
tions will offer advance looks at items not 
yet released for sale, and may be limited 

by the fact of a demonstration being kept 
under the manufacturer’s control. These 
articles will not be expected to set formats 
for subsequent reviews, but will be used 
as a means of letting the readers know 
about new products relatively quickly. 
Quick-look articles will have more room 
for opinion and informal comparison to 
other products, so we will continue to be 
careful about qualifying the authors. 

In addition to publishing articles and 
reports such as discussed above, we plan 
to poll readers on their experience with 
various products. These surveys would 
not be able to go Into the detail that a 
review would, but we would gather signi- 
Ticant feedback on reader satisfaction with 
products and vendors. Reader surveys 
also feel good to me because they provide 
a way in which we can all become actively 
involved with the magazine. It is my guess 
that a magazine which is used by an active 
community of readers, will be both useful 
and exciting to contribute to. 

What’s Next? 

As you probably know, IBM has already 
announced several software packages for 
the Personal Computer. We have just re- 
ceived copies of the Easywriter word pro- 
cessor, VisiCalc, BASIC and the disk oper- 
ating system and will try to give you at 
least a “quick look’’ at these by the next 
issue of PC. IBM has also announced that 
they will offer UCSD Pascal, the Microsoft 
Pascal Compiler and CP/M 86, but as of 
this writing, they have not yet established 
a firm delivery date for these systems. We 
also expect a copy of their communication 
package any day now, and will probably 
have something to say about that by the 
next issue. Finally, IBM has published a 
technical manual describing the Personal 
Computer. At first glance, it appears to be 
quite complete and will be must reading 
for anyone planning to really gel into the 
machine — either as a hobbyist, or as an 
entrepreneur thinking of developing a 
hardware or software product for the per- 
sonal computer. More on that next time 

Since color monitors and letter-quality 
printers are not supplied as part of the 
standard IBM product line, they will pro- 
bably be featured in early hardware re- 
views. We have also heard many rumors 
about hardware and software products 
which will be forthcoming from vendors 
other than IBM. At this time, we don’t 
have any firm dates, so we will wait to see 
what materializes. 

It goes without saying that I would like 
to hear from you. Let me know what pro- 
ducts you would like to see evaluated and 
what you want to see in the evaluations. 


IBM’s New Personal Computer: 

Taking the Me 




X single computer event has ever 
captured more interest from more 
people than the introduction of the 
IBM Personal Computer. No single 
development in personal computers 
has ever produced more forecasts of 
far-reaching change. 

But ail the interest, all the fore- 
casts, were excited by an unknown 
quantity. At first, the only things actu- 
ally known were the name, company 
and reputation behind the coming 
product. And, for apparent multi- 
tudes, that was enough. 

Preliminary reports about the ma- 
chine began circulating immediately 
after IBM announced it on August 12, 
1981, But these were necessarily 
based on speciHcations rather than 
experience. Early October was when 
the cash customers were scheduled to 
begin receiving what some already 
were calling their “PC's, and some 
did indeed receive them, but at the 
beginning only in a trickle. By the 
COMDEX show at the end of November 
(see following story) the IBM Personal 
Computer was still an object of 

The atmosphere echoed how an ear- 
lier generation must have responded 
when General Motors introduced its 
first modern sports car, the Corvette, 
and only a few early models had been 
let out on the road: 

“What'll she do?” 

“How fast?” 

“How's she hold in the turns?" 

There comes a time when reputa- 
tion must, stand the test of perfor- 
mance, and that is the purpose of the 
articles that begin here and continue 
in K's next issue. We can now begin 
to take the measure of the machine — 
to test its reach, its endurance, its 
power to satisfy. 

In this issue we report on the 
measure of things most immediately 
accessible: the system software, the 
potential for expansion, and first im- 
pressions in general. First impres- 
sions first. 

Jim Edlin and David Bunnell 

Photography: Jay Carlson 

First Imifressions 

box. If someone has given obvious 
thought to a packing box. you are inclined 
to suppose they also thought hard about 
what’s inside. IBM has clearly given some 
thought to its Personal Computer boxes. 

To begin with, the packing boxes look 
good— a tasteful gray-and-white exten- 
sion of the highly styled machinery with- 
in. Secondly, the packing arrangement is 
exquisitely functional — all tabbed and 
slotted and nooked and crannied to give 
the goods maximum protection. 

But if you have included the mono- 
chrome monitor in your system, the pack- 
ing boxes also telegraph one other quality 
about the IBM PC, namely it's an awfully 
good start but there are lapses. The 
monitor, unlike the keyboard and system 
unit, comes in a klunky brown carton 
bearing random stamps and stickers from 
its transpacific passage. 

Elsewhere in these pages. Microsoft's 
Bill Gates describes the IBM PC as the per- 
sonal computer that “stands on the 
shoulders” of all that has been learned in 
the last half-dozen years about making 
personal computers. And so it does, in 
many respects. 

But it is simultaneously the beginner of 
a new cycle, full of things people will 
quickly discover can be improved upon. 

The keyboard is a good example of both 
phenomena. Personal computer experi- 
ence has shown that people like to have 
two sets of keys for entering numbers — 
one typewriter-style and one calculator- 
style. So IBM provides both as standard. 
Then IBM added a clever arrangement for 

letting the calculator “pad” double as a 
set of keys for controling display screen 
motion. Similarly, in the light of evidence 
that programmers can make profitable use 
of special-function keys, IBM provided 
these too. 

The IBM keyboard approaches being a 
triumph of design, even unto thoughtful 
touches like adjustable legs for tilt, and a 
handsome spring cord for connection to 
the system unit. But that nice spring cord 
plugs into the most awkwardly placed out- 
let imaginable, way 'round in back of the 
computer — rendering half its seemingly- 
generous length useless. And one wonders 
how IBM, that ultimate pro of typewriter 
manufacture, could put the left-hand 
SHIFT key at the awkward reach they did, 
let alone omitting the shift-lock arrange- 
ment whose use comes so instinctively to 
the fingers of typewriter users every- 




When one first explores an IBM Per- 
sonal Computer system, or imagines how 
one would create programs for it, the 
dominant impression is one of memory, 
memory and more memory, everywhere 
you turn. There is memory for the isplay, 
and memory for the other display if you 
include both monochrome and color in 
your system. There is memory space re- 
served for still other displays as yet 
unspoken-of, or perhaps higher-resolu- 



Taking the Measure 

Beanstalk Basic 

The PC’s BASIC language — powerful and complex. 

tion graphics to be offered sometime 
hence. There’s memory for plenty of plug- 
in read-only software. And still there is 
more memory space left for programs and 
data than most personal computers store 
on one, or even two disks. 

Other personal computers use their 
diskettes as simulated “virtual” memory. 
The PC could use part of Its memory as a 
virtual diskette. 

Getting full memory power out of a PC 
does not come cheap. For what it costs to 
give one PC its theoretical (as yet still 
unusable) maximum of memory, you 
could Instead buy two or three more of the 
most stripped-down PC models. But the 
prices will continue coming down and it's 
comforting to know the capacity is easily 

But Rough Edges 

The lengthy self-diagnosis for problems 
that every PC performs every time you 
turn it on is a continuing reminder of the 
professional standards observed by those 
who build it. But the self-check causes a 
pregnant pause after you flip the switch 
on, and if you are inclined to expect the 
imminent failure of all complex machin- 
ery, the pauses can be repeatedly heart- 

Rough edges keep showing up as you 
use the computer. When you format a new 
disk, the formatUng program tells you at 
one point In the process, “strike any key 
when ready.” Yet, because the process 
could destroy valuable data if it starts 
prematurely, the user's manual warns you 
to be careful of striking a key accidentally 
before you are ready. One would wish for 
for a better safety measure than this off- 
hand note. And contrast that situation 
with the two-hand, two-key contor- 
tions — precautions worthy of a factory 
punch press — needed merely to pause the 
display listing of a disk directory or BASIC 

If one is inclined to pick nits, it is prob- 
ably because they stick out against an 
otherwise Impressively smooth back- 
ground. But IBM has 120 years or so to 
correct these. Apparently, that’s all the 
time they have, though; the disk operating 
system is set up not to accept an entry for 
“Today’s Date?” whose year is any later 
than 2099 . 

After which, for all we know, you may 
end up with an IBM personal pumpkin. 

Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul 
Alien showed up on the Albuquerque door- 
step of MLTS, Inc., bearing the BASIC lang- 
uage interpreter they bad created for that 
company's pioneering Altair microcom- 
puters, tbeir small seed of a program bos 
groum like fack 's beanstalk. H has shot up 
and fleshed out to such robust dimensions 
that a microcomputer-age fack can truly 
use it to climb into the land of the com- 
puter giants. 

was an 8,000-character (8K) program 
with limited capabilities that conformed to 
the spirit of the original BASIC language, 
which had been invented a decade earlier 
for use on large computers. 

Well that 8K seed planted in the desert 
sands of Albuquerque has since been nur- 
tured by the rains of the Pacific Northwest 
(where Microsoft later moved), the hot- 
house climes of California’s Silicon Valley 
(where Apple Computer, among others, 
resides), the giant-breeding influences of 
Texas(Radio Shack), the precise gardening 
of the Japanese (NEC, among others), and 
now by the warm sunshine around IBM's 
Personal Computer factory in Boca Raton, 
Florida. The resulting growth spurt has 
left it sextupled in size from its sprout days 
(to about 48K in the advanced version), 
with a geometrically proportional increase 
in power. 

The nutrient on which it has grown to 
such power? Memory, memory and more 
memory. Thanks to the PC’s abundance of 
memory space, and the ever-falling prices 
for memory cell hardware, PC BASIC 
sprawls out over memory acreage hitherto 
unimaginable for a microcomputer’s 
BASIC language. Two other key nutrients 
are speed, provided by the 8088 pro- 
cessor’s inherent fast operation and an in- 
ternal instruction set that facilitates high- 
speed computation, plus experience — the 
six-year opportunity to discover and sup- 
ply what people thought was lacking in 
Microsoft BASIC's earlier incarnations. An 
additional growth factor for PC BASIC’s 
power was the decision to make it 
“machine-specific” — that is, to pull 
many of the hardware design's special 

features under direct control of BASIC 
commands instead of requiring their man- 
ipulation by POKE and PEEK instructions 
to obscure memory locations (a common 
approach for earlier machines). 

Where is PC BASIC’s new power most 
noticeable? In the “human interface:” 
those ways in which a user must go about 
writing, editing and using programs; in 
file handling; in error handling; in facili- 
ties to create and run interrelated suites of 
programs; and most of all in graphics, 
when the advanced version is used. 

There are three versions of the Personal 
Computer’s BASIC. The built-in version, 
supplied with the IBM System Unit in 32K 
of read-only memory, has most of the new 
powers except those relating to disk stor- 
age, graphics and music. Two supple- 
mentary versions of BASIC are supplied 
with purchase of IBM’s disk operating 
system; one that mainly adds disk-related 
commands, and an “advanced” version 
that also adds graphics and music com- 
mands. Both versions mate with the 32K 
of BASIC built into tbe system unit, the 8K 
of operating system that is also built in, 
and the 12K of additional PC DOS oper- 
ating system loaded in from the same disk 
as BASIC. 

Earlier BASICS often had the on-the-job 
personality of a meter maid. Park one 
wrong character in a forbidden zone and it 
would shout “VIOLATION” and write you 
up with an error-message citation, show- 
ing no mercy whatsoever. 

PC BASIC is much more forgiving. 

capital is required, and nobody shouts 
“VIOLATION.” BASIC just calmly capi- 
talizes your mistake. Bury a “reserved 
command word” like ON in a variable 
name like ONIONS and your Personal Com- 
puter goesn’t get confused for a moment. 
What's more, taking the new memory 
abundance to heart, it lets you give 
variable names as long as you want, and 
pays attention to the first 40 characters. 
To PC BASIC, lucid-to-you names like 
mercifully distinguishable. 

Editing a PC BASIC program to make 
corrections and changes is a vastly eased 
affair compared to earlier BASICS. The 


program's designers took into account 
that their product was going to work on a 
nice, flexible video screen rather than a 
clunky old teletypewriter, so instead of 
old-fashioned “line-editing,” PC BASIC 
gives you screen editing. If you are typing 
away on line 350 of your new program 
when you suddenly realize there's a 
change you need to make back on line 
300. you just hustle the cursor straight up 
there, type in your change, and it’s done. 
Then you can zip the cursor back to where 
you were and go on. The editor design 
isn’t as fully adapted to the benefits of 
video display as it might be. but it has 
come a long way from the old days. 

One last example of the human inter- 
face’s thoughtfulness is the way BASIC 
refers to row and column positions on the 
video screen. They are numbered starling 
with I, which is the way people count 
things, instead of starting computer- 
fashion with 0 as in other microcomputer 
BASICS. (In a curious inconsistency, this 
nice touch applies only for text display. 
Graphics rows and columns on the screen 
are indeed numbered starting with zero.) 

Error Handling 

euphemism for something happening in a 
way other than planned. Handling errors 
means planning for the unplanned, and 
somehow making sure that inconvenience 
to the program user is minimized. 

Errors can range from the inadvertent 
typing of the lower-case L, when the 
number I is needed, to an attempt to read 
from a data diskette that has had coffee 
spilled Gii It. An unhandled error means 
ihe program “crashes.” By providing lots 
of easy ways to detect and correct errors, 
PC BASIC encourages programmers — you 
included — to anticipate and forestall pos- 
sible crashes. 

An ON ERROR GOTO . . . command and 
its GOSUB brother let you direct the pro- 
gram to a special section when an error 
occurs. In that special section, other com- 
mands let the program figure out what 
kind of an error took place, and even the 
point in the program where the error oc- 
curred. A RESUME command, and a varia- 
tion of the RETURN command that enables 
return from a subroutine to a chosen line 
number, allow extra sophistication in 
recovering gracefully from errors. For de- 
bugging purposes, an ERROR command is 
provided for temporary insertion in pro- 
grams under development. When encoun- 

tered, the ERROR command causes simula- 
tion of Ihe error named in it, permitting 
the testing of a program’s error-handling 

Program Integration 

tion of elaborate, interwoven suites of 
programs by providing such commands as 
command, together with powers such as 
RENUMBER, also makes it easy for pro- 
grammers to build on their earlier work 
and the work of others. 

MERGE can be used during the creation 
of a program to weave in earlier-written 
material such as error handling or file 
handling routines. It can also be 
used — together with the DELETE com- 
mand if desired — to modify a BASIC pro- 
gram at the very time it is running. Such 
powers are likely to encourage the 
“menu-driven” technique of program 
design, where a choice made from a menu 
would cause merging in of the program 
section responsive to the choice. 

The Personal Computer also provides 
plenty of facilities for weaving machine 
language programming into BASIC when 
its extra speed is desired. Both the CALL 
and the USR commands are provided for 
this purpose. Ten different user-written 
routines are accessible at any given point 
via the USR statement, and the CALL com- 
mand can branch to any stated point in 
memory. Machine-language code need not 
be within BASIC’s 64K of memory space; 
the DEF SEG command (which defines the 
start of a 64K segment of memory) makes 
it possible to access the IBM machine’s 
entire complement of usable memory. You 
could even stash a machine-code routine 
in an unused page of the video memory on 
the color-graphics display adapter. And 
the BLOAD command makes it easy for a 
BASIC program to draw machine language 
routines into memory from disk storage. 

Graphics and Music 

saved for last in this article. The graphics 
commands provided in the advanced ver- 
sion of PC BASIC will make it possible for 
BASIC programs to use dramatic graphic 
presentations simply and routinely. 

A similar command having language- 
within-a-language properties is PLAY — 
used to produce music from the PC’s built 

in speaker. Even the built-in BASIC 
language can utilize Ihe speaker with the 
SOUND command. But Ihe PLAY command 
is specifically designed for producing 
musical sequences using the classical 
Western scale of notes and familiar tem- 
pos. Unlike SOUND, PLAY doesn’t require 
the user to know anything about fre- 
quencies and durations, only the tradi- 
tional notes. Regrettably, there seems no 
easy way the PLAY command can send its 
compositions anyplace other than the PC’s 
pipsqueak speaker. 


software authors alike should Find plenty 
to laud in Microsoft’s new BASIC for the 
Personal Computer. Because of its range 
and power, commercial software authors 
are probably going to be more inclined 
than before to work at least partially in 
BASIC. It is clear a lot of thought went into 
making Ihe details work sensibly, like 
rounding numbers off rather than just 
truncating them when converting from 
double to single precision arithmetic. 

Regarding translation of programs from 
other versions of BASIC, hints are 
included in the back of the user manual. 
But chances are that translation in many 
cases won’t be quite as easy as the manual 
makes it sound — particularly if the pro- 
grams use machine-specific features such 
as cursor positioning or display format- 
ting. And in any case the translated pro- 
grams won’t be able to take advantage of 
PC BASIC’s speed and pizazz without 
major rewrite. 

There is, however, a twinge of sadness 
brought on by this latest version of a 
language that no longer fits its name. 
BASIC is now complex. And for the guy 
who buys something christened a “per- 
sonal computer’ ’ only to discover that the 
language for commanding it takes 400 
pages to explain, one must feel some sym- 

In growing powerful, BASIC has 
emerged less personal. Many people 
newly brought into the world of micro- 
computers by the IBM Personal Computer 
will find this enhanced BASIC less ap- 
proachable, more forbidding than its pre- 
decessors. Perhaps IBM ought to have bor- 
rowed a leaf from Atari and included with 
its computer not only a comprehensive 
reference manual to BASIC, but also a 
friendly, step-by-step introduction for the 


Taking the Uteasure 

A Language Within 
a Language 

PC BASIC’s powerful graphics commands. 

simplicity of one command in PC BASIC's 
graphics arsenal — the DRAW com- 
mand — it helps to have seen a child 
discovering the things he can make a 
video picture do using the "turtle 
graphics" instructions of a computer 
language called LOGO. 

By telling an electronic image of a 
turtle to go this way and that on the 
screen, even very young children quickly 
figure out the techniques for developing 
complex video illustrations. LOGO has a 
language of simple commands telling the 
symbolic turtle which way to turn, how 
far to go in the new direction, and 

whether to draw a line as it goes. The 
resulting lines can make shapes, and the 
resulting shapes can be combined to make 
still-larger shapes. 

DRAW is not so powerful as LOGO nor 
quite so simply expressed, but it comes 
from the same school of thought. It is, in 
effect, a separate graphics language within 
the larger BASIC language. Each DRAW 
command is followed by a series of mini- 
instructions that describe a course of 
travel for an imaginary penpoint and the 
actions it should take along the way. The 
course proceeds from a previously set 
starling point in any one of eight direc- 
tions, at 45-degree intervals. The mini- 
instructions specify distance in each direc- 
tion and color of line, if any, to be drawn. 
The instructions for drawing, which are a 
sequence of letters and numbers, are 
stored together in a "string” variable. 

The dramatic power of DRAW comes 
from a special mini-instruction ("X 
string") that allows an instruction .string 
to incorporate others of the same kind 
stored under different names. Each of 
these other instruction strings can. in 
turn, perform the same trick. And so on. 

A set of such strings, each bearing the 
instructions for drawing one simple 
shape, can thus be conglomerated, layer 
upon layer. Into one long instruction that 
draws a complex picture. The process can 
be repealed through many layers of 
instruction strings. In this fashion a single 
DRAW command can evoke the appear- 
ance of a quite elaborate image. 

You might, for example, make one 
string that draws a little red rectangle, and 
call it BRICKS. A second siring, WALLS 
might then make a whole wall by moving 
the pointer to each new brick location and 
then instructing: X BRICKS. A DRAW state- 
ment for a picture of a house could read: 
DOORS;. . . " and so on. 

DRAW' is not quite LOGO. But — to sug- 
gest how close it comes — it seems pro- 
bable that someone could write a reason- 
able facsimile of LOGO to run on the IBM 
Personal Computer using Advanced BASIC 
and relying heavily on the DRAW com- 

Three other commands — CIRCLE, LINE 
and PAINT— also add graphic power to the 
PC. CIRCLE is a one-step command that 
enables the creation of circles, ellipses and 
segments of them. In the case of segments. 

the ends can, if desired, be conneaed by 
lines to the center. The command is a pie- 
chart-maker's dream. 

LINE should really be called LINE/BOX, 
since it also draws squares and rectangles, 
in the same fashion that CIRCLE works. Its 
drawing of a straight line is really just a 
special case of a box with one dimension 
of zero. Finally, PAINT is a command that 
provides fur the Tilling in with color of any 
enclosed area on the display. So after you 
create a circle, box or other figure with 
the earlier commands, you can use PAINT 
to fill it in. 

Lastly, one other pair of commands 
contributes to PC BASIC's graphic nimble- 
ness — PUT and GET. These rely on the 
principle that any picture on the PC's 
display is simply an array of numbers in its 
video memory cells. Such an array can be 
copied to or from any equal-sized array 
elsewhere in the computer's memory. 
One could do such copying with a loop of 
PEEK and POKE statements, but that lactic 
is rather slow. PUT and GET accomplish 
the same thing on a machine language 
level, moving images in and out of screen 
memory much faster — often fast enough 
to create video animation. 

An example of their use might be after 
you created the house image discussed 
earlier with DRAW, PAINT, LINE and 
CIRCLE commands. The execution of such 
an elaborate image might lake quite a 
while on the screen. But once it was there 
you could store it away elsewhere in mem- 
ory with a GET statement. Then, sometime 
later you could call it back to the screen in 
a small fradion of the time the original 
commands took to draw it in the first 

With this powerful set of commands, 
graphics programmers who have never 
before found it practical to work in BASIC 
might find they now can do so. This might 
speed development of exciting graphics- 
using software for the PC. Also, as noted 
in the adjacent article, PC BASIC has broad 
ability to merge existing program seg- 
ments into new ones. This may inspire 
commercial program marketers to develop 
libraries of graphic elements available for 
incorporation into other programs. Such 
elements — display type faces, architec- 
tural symbols, simple illustrations, etc. 
— would be the Personal Computer's 
equivalent of stencils, press-on lettering 
and the like. 


Open System 

IBM comes to the plug-in world of personal computers. 

puters, the idea of augmenting your 
system with plug-in accessories from a 
teeming bazaar of verulors is a familiar 
one. But to the growing new contingent 
IBM is introducing to microcomputers — 
folks who are as new to persona! com- 
puters as IBM itself is — the piug-in game 
may come as a revelation. 

is very much a participant in the piug-in 

game, a brief review of the rules seems in 

It boils down to this: buying an IBM Per- 
sonal Computer is more like buying the 
centerpiece of a component stereo system 
than it is like buying an Oldsmobile. Many 
IBM buyers may not be inclined to believe 
so at flrst, but we predict they'll come 
around. Unexpectedly enough, IBM has 
provided all the ingredients for bringing 
them around. These are: 

• the Personal Computer’s accessible 

• IBM’s extremely a la carte marketing 

• and IBM’s generous openness with 
technical information. 

Together, these factors explain why the 
microcomputer industry terms the PC an 
“open system.” 

continued . . . 

Either the Bve internal sockets, or 
added ones In an expansion box. (An 
expansion box would probably use 
up one slot in the System Unit for a 
connector that ties the two together.) 

• Memory expansion 

• Communications ports (according 
to various standards — RS232, 
IEEE4888, etc.) 

• Direct-connect telephone model 

• Connectors for local networks 
such as Ethernet and Desnet 

• Mass storage device controllers 
(such as for hard disks) 

• Music synthesizers 

• External device controllers (such 
as for appUances and lights) 


• Enhancements to system software 
in read-only memory 

> Alternate character sets for video 

• Game and other programs, or 
parts of programs, in read-only 
memory form 

The PC’s keyboard connector 
offers interesting possibilities. The 
PC keyboard itself is an “intelligent” 
device, and the channel between it 
and the System Unit is a serial chan- 
nel that carries information on keys 

The PC's Plug-In 

pressed rather than speciflc character 

Each of the 83 keys has its own 
number (including separate numbers 
for each of the two shift keys) and 
sends one code when pressed and a 
different code when released. Soft- 
ware in the System Unit keeps track 
of which keys were pressed and 
released in which order (". . .was 
the SHIFT key released before the G 
key was pressed? Hmmm, you must 
want a lower-case g. to handle 
such matters as shifts and Typamatic 
repeating. The internal software that 
handles this is accessible for change; 
also, 45 of the possible on/off num- 
ber pairs are left unused by IBM. So 
there is great potential for outside 
vendors to connect devices through 
this channel. 

■ Add-on keyboards with special 
function keys 

• Musical keyboards 

■ Graphics tablets and other similar 


• Telephone modems 

• Device control (via the "motor 
on/motor off’ feature) 

• Speech synthesizers 


• Printers 

• Plotters 

• Telephone modems 

• Scientific or medical instruments 


• Joysticks and paddles 

• Graphics tablets (digitizer pads) 

• Robots 


• Hi-fi sound amplifiers 

• Other devices responsive to ana- 
log waveforms 

The above list is far from exhaus- 
tive. Already, in labs, garages and 
spare bedrooms from Silicon \^lley to 
Saull Sainte Marie, electronics 
wizards are huddled over logic 
analyzers, wire wrap boards and 
other tools of their trade figuring out 
how to plug in new goodies to the 
IBM Personal Computer. As their 
creations appear, they will be 
reported and evaluated in future 
issues of PC. (Some have appeared al- 
ready and are discussed elsewhere in 
this issue.) 


At last, 
pow&rful enough 
of, * 

by Son 

Cr , jhtC^ 

Thanks, IBM. 

For more information about Sorcim’s 
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Taking the licensure 

Inside the System Unit of the IBM Per- 
sonal Computer, five long, identical, slot- 
shaped sockets provide places for con- 
necting to all of the PC’s important 
circuits — 59 in all. (This design approach 
is sometimes called a “hus".) IBM acces- 
sories, some necessary like a display 
adapter and some optional like the game 
paddle adapter, can plug into these 
sockets. But so can accessories manufac- 
tured by anyone else who figures out the 
proper interactions with all 59 circuits. 
(There are actually 62 connections in the 
socket, but some are duplicates.) To help 
make this possible. IBM has — in a major 
reversal of its usual policies — published 
full disclosure about the goings-on and ex- 
pectations for each of the circuits. 

The PC also has a good supply of other 
available orifices for plug-in products. 
There is the cassette-recorder connector, 
and the matching one next to it for the 
keyboard. There are sockets on the back 
panels of most IBM accessory cards. And 
there are the component s6ckets on the 
main circuit board itself, some already oc- 
cupied and some not. For various other 
personal computers, all of these connector 
types have been used to attach one or 
another add-on devices, and it is reason- 
able to suppose this will happen with the 
PC too. 

What might be plugged into this multi- 
plicity of sockets, and why? Both the pro- 
ducts and the answers range from the 
mundane to the exotic. 

The mundane products and answers 
tend to go together. For example, com- 
panies sell expansion cards for read-write 
memory, and people often choose to buy 
such cards because they are priced lower 
than the manufaaurer’s equivalent. Other 
reasons might also apply, such as extra 
certification and reliability or, particularly 
in the PC’s case, an outside company’s 
design that offers more capacity than IBM 
sells on a single card. 

Exotic products include such things as 
music synthesizers and graphics tablets. 
Products in the exotic group are usually 
sold by outside companies because 
demand for them is not broad enough to 
interest the microcomputer manufac- 
turers themselves. But from those who 
have a special interest, demand can be 
quite fervent. 

A computer music enthusiast might 
want to plug six complete synthesizer 
cards into his system in order to supply 
many different “voices” which are 
playable simultaneously. In the PC’s case, 
this music enthusiast would first have to 
invest in a different kind of plug-in 
device — an expansion adapter that pro- 

vides more slots than the five built into the 
IBM system unit. One such expansion unit 
has already been put on the market, by 
Tecmar; but our hypothetical music lover 
needn’ t buy one just yet, because as of this 
writing no synthesizer accessory has yet 
been introduced. (Judging from the num- 
ber available for the Apple computer, it 
won’t be long 'til some appear for the PC.) 

Sometimes what is first thought to be 
exotic later turns out to be popular enough 
for the big manufacturers to begin offering 
it. This was Apple Computer’s experience 
with graphics tablets, which are rectangu- 
lar writing surfaces equipped to detect and 
report the action of a pen moved across its 
surface. They are useful in computer- 
aided design, among other applications. 
For the PC, a tablet might be designed to 
plug into the game adapter, the cassette 
port, or even (with a “Y-connector”) to 
the keyboard plug, in any of these cases, 
software would also have to be added tell- 
ing the PC how to interpret and act on the 
signals sent from the tablet via the plug. In 
fact, it is appropriate to view the slots of 
the disk drives as yet another place where 
“plug-in” products for the PC can be in- 
stalled. Operating system software that 
can replace the PC’s own DOS, such as 
CP/M-^ and the UCSD p-System, would be 
examples of this phenomenon. 

Operational Choice Hal Glaticr 

DOS, CP/M-86, p-System: Three operating systems for the PC. 

I. Abeyl Opcratins Systen* 

“I want my breakfast,” a seemingly 
endless chain of people relays the order. 
Like a bucket brigade, the words pass from 
nobles to guards to servants. . . “the king’s 
breakfast!” ... "the king’s breakfast!” . . . 
and so on, until the steward tells the cook 
to fry an egg. 

That’s how your computer’s operating 
system works. You are the ruler of a 
microelectronic domain. When you want 
something, you type in a command to do it, 
and the operating system actually does the 
work for you. Programs are only in- 
termediaries between you and your 
operating system — like the servants in the 

king's retinue. If you are working with 
VisiCalc, for excample, it is the operating 
system which prepares the “spread sheet” 
for you to write on, interprets your 
keystrokes (“that’s a 1, a 9, an 8 and a 2") 
and displays them (“1982”) on the screen 
wherever it has placed the cursor for you. 
When you are through, the operating 
system checks to make sure there is enough 
room in your disk to store the file, and then 
it transfers the Hie from the working 
memory (RAM) to the disk. Finally, it comes 
back with the "A-prompt” (“A”) to tell 
you that it's ready to serve you again. 

A typical program, like VisiCalc, doesn’t 
do those things by itself; it uses the 
operating system, since those kinds of tasks 
are common to almost every program and 
need not be re-invented by each program- 
mer. There is a technical advantage, too, 
because the program itself can be shorter, 
saving extra space on the disk for your 

II. About The Choices 

have a choice of three operating systems: 
DOS, which is the IBM PC's “standard” 
operating system, CP/M-86, and the 
p-System, both of which are alternate 
choices. DOS is priced at only $40, reflec- 
ting its position as the “standard" The 
p-System will cost $675 (with one language 
included), and CP/M is anticipated to be 
around $300-350. Because CP/M was the 
first operating system in the microcom- 
puter industry to be adopted by many dif- 
ferent manufacturers, instead of just one, 
we will consider it first. 

III. About CP/M 

CP/M WAS developed' IN THE MID- 
I970's when floppy disks were being 
perfected. Surprisingly, the industry- 
giants did not foresee the advantages of 

floppy disk storage for the then-new 
microcomputers; nor did they want to sell 
a microcomputer operating system that 
could work with floppy disks. So the man 
who developed the “Control Program for 
Microprocessor,” Gary Kildall, bought the 
rights to his invention from his employer 
and went into business for himself, as 
Digital Research, Inc. 

By 1981, CP/M was — de facto — the 
standard microcomputer operating sys- 
tem. There are important exceptions but. 
by and large, every professional 
microcomputer uses either CP/M as its 
factory-standard operating system, or is 
able to use it with only slight modification. 

CP/M was written for microcomputers 
that use eight-bit processors (that is, they 
work with eight bits of information at any- 
given moment). When a 16-bit processor 
became available, CP/M was modified to 
accommodate it. IB,M selected the Intel 
8088 chip for its Personal Computer, and 
Digital Research asked Johnson-Laird, Inc. 
to customize its 16-bit CP/M-86 (created 
for the 8088’s “brother" chip, the 8086) 
to work on the PC. 

IV. About CP/M-86 

computer what gasoline is to an 
automobile,” says Andy Johnson-Laird, 
his company’s president. “It's only a 
means to an end. The novice user should 
not give a damn w hat kind of chip is inside 
his computer. Rather, he’s asking. What 
can I do with it? I say, forget about the 
chip and the operating system. The only 
time you have to worry about the 
operating system is when things go 

Among the technical improvements 
Johnson-Laird built in to the IBM version 
of CP/M-86 were a “status line" at the 
bottom of the screen that carries messages 
to the user, such as clock time, or the pro- 
gress of internal tasks. His enhancements 
permit the user to alter the w ay the com- 
puter normally- works w ith its peripheral 
equipment, such as disk drives and 

“You can, for example, support both a 
letter-quality, daisy wheel printer and a 
high-speed dot-matrix printer at the same 
time, with the same files," he says. “Us- 
ing our ASIGN utility, within a BASIC pro- 
gram, you can select w hich device will be 
used for output, and then redirect that 
continued . . 



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Taking the Measure 

output at any time. You can tell your com- 
puter to regard certain physical devices as 
logical devices. For example, you can send 
part of a File, like your remarks that aren't 
part of the working program, to one 
printer, while the other can be printing 
your File out. 

‘‘We also put in a fairly extensive 
system for recognizing escape- 
sequences,” he says, ‘‘those special func- 
tions that are heralded by the ESCAPE 
character and one or more subsequent 
characters — for example, the combina- 
tion that produces a clear screen. If you 
want to read the current date and time in a 
program, you can send an escape- 
sequence in BASIC, so you don't need 
PEEK or POKE commands. Both of these 
concepts, the logical device and the 
escape-sequence, are rather technical, but 
they’re Important to technical users.” 

V. About PC DOS 

ing systems Is called simply DOS (disk- 
operating system), and was written by 
Tim Paterson. It was customized for the 
IBM Personal Computer by Microsoft, Inc., 
a company that has led the microcomputer 
software vanguard since 1975. Its found- 
ers were two whiz kids who never Fi- 
nished college; they wrote a BASIC lang- 
uage that ran on the first 8-bit hobby 
microcomputer, and later wrote BASIC 
and other languages that are compatible 
with practically every microcomputer 
ever built. 

Microsoft's product marketing manager 
for DOS, Chris Larson, describes the dif- 
ference between DOS and CP/M-86 this 
way: "CP/M was designed around 8-bit 
hardware, when technology was less ad- 
vanced. DOS was designed around con- 
cepts of a l6-bit operating system called 
UNIX, that was developed by Bell Labora- 
tories. Microsofts’s languages, such as 
BASIC, FORTRAN, or PASCAL, will only 
run on the IBM Personal Computer if DOS 
is the operating system. There's no way a 
user can get a Microsoft product onto his 
machine if he’s running CP/M-86.” 

The differences are technical, but im- 
portant, according to Larson. “Under 
DOS, you can use the full 256K bytes of 
available memory for a program — not 
merely the 64K codespace. That means 
you can run large programs, such as 
database management. Eventually, the 
programs that run on l6-bit minicom- 
puters will be brought down to the IB.M 

Personal Computer, running DOS. With 
CP/M-86, there is a limit to the size of a 
File: eight megabytes (eight million 
characters). With DOS, the File size can be 
up to one gigabyte — one billion bytes! For 
users who get hard disks that hold 8M 
bytes or more, that will be an advantage. 
“Another technical advantage," Larson 
says, "is that any command that makes 
use of a disk file can use a device — that is, 
to the operating system, all devices look 
like Files. In itself, that's not great, but it 
has wide implications. If you want to add a 
new device, under a BASIC program, you 
don't have to change the BASIC interpre- 
ter — only the BIOS, the BASIC input/out- 
put system.” 

On the novice user’s ievel, both DOS 
and CP/M-86 have advanced error- 
recovery procedures. Instead of “crash- 
ing” or giving you cryptic messages, they 
give you the choice of ignoring, aborting 
or re-trying an operation, and a clear, 
unambiguous message appears in the 
status line. 

VI. About Translatability 

about wbat he calls a “myth” concerning 
CP/M-86. “There is confusion in peoples’ 
minds,” he says, “about tbe possibiiity of 
translating 8-bit CP/M software into 16-bit 
CP/M-86 software. I’ve heard retail- 
ers — who should know better — say you 
can take a CP/M disk and put it into a 
CP/M-86 system. You can’t! The software 
has to be translated at the source-code 
level (i.e. before it has been through the 
Final conversion stage to fundamental 
computer instructions). A hobbyist migbl 
be able to do it, but a typical end-user 

The source-code must be exact. If the 
software does not connect with specific 
counterparts in the operating system, a 
program cannot run as it was designed to 
do. Programs which were written to run 
on 8-bit computers will not work on 16-bit 
computers, even if the computers and the 
operating systems are — to the user’s 
eye — superficially alike. A narrow-gauge 
railway locomotive will not run on a wide, 
modern track unless the undercarriage is 

“We believe vendors and programmers 
will translate their best programs into 
16-bit source code,” says Larson, “and 
it's just as easy to translate a program 
written for CP/M into DOS as it is to trans- 

late it into CP/M-86. So you wiil be able to 
get CP/M software without having to get 
CP/M-86. I believe that vendors and pro- 
grammers will translate their most popu- 
lar programs into both CP/M-86 and DOS, 
and then see which becomes dominant in 
the marketplace. It’s easy to support both, 
technically, but it’s a pain in the accoun- 
ting department to coordinate orders for 
software on two different operating 

Andy Johnson-Laird admits that 
CP/M-86 has what he caiis a “legacy” of 
8-bit software to live up to. "Why does 
CP/M-86 do that? To provide continu- 
ity — so the user will not notice the dif- 
ference. Certainly, Microsoft’s DOS runs 
programs more rapidly than CP/M-86 can, 
because it’s freed from that constraint, 
and it can adapt more comfortabiy to the 
new hardware environment. The File 
structure of CP/M-86 is paying its dues to 
the past " 

VII. About Portability 

system are limited by the design of the 
chip that does the actual “computing” 
(i.e., the microprocessor). Because no 
two “families " of chips manipulate data 
in exactly the same way, an operating 
system written for one family probably 
can not be used with any other. For the 
IBM Personal Computer, the DOS and 
CP/M-86 operating systems have been 
carefully tailored, like a custom-fitted 
suit, to the family of Intel 8086/8088 

But a new idea arose in the late 1970’s 
at the University of California at San 
Diego: an idea for an operating system 
freed from the constraints of a chip's fami- 
ly, and so able to work on virtually any 
computer. It was written in a program- 
ming language called PASCAL (named for 
the 17th century French mathematician 
and mystic), and based on the computer 
concept called an “emulator, ” which 
works like the plastic spindle that lets you 
play 45 rpm records on a regular 
phonograph. Programs written in the 
p-System are transiated into a made-up 
language for an idealized, altogether im- 
aginary processor chip. Then a fast 
translating program converts this 
language for the idealized chip (called 
“p-code”) into a real chip’s actual 
language. The translating program is like a 
human translator who can simultaneously 


translate from one language to another, 
and is called an emulator. 

VIII. About th« p-Systcm 

Diego, developed this concept into a 
“machine-independent" operating sys- 
tem, which it calls the p-System. An emu- 
lator fetches each p-code instruction, in 
sequence, and looks it up in a table; for 
each p-code there will be corresponding 
instructions appropriate to that particular 

According to Al Irvine, vice president 
for engineering at Softech Microsystems, 
the user’s advantage comes in being able 
to take any p-code software, written for 
any microcomputer, and run it on any 
other. Differences in hardware, he said, 
presently force users to acquire different 
software for each machine. “It’s as if 
every time you wanted to buy a phono- 
graph record, you could only use records 
that were compatible with your particular 
brand of phonograph. Worse — if you 
wanted to buy a new phonograph, you 
would have to throw away all the records 
you’d bought for the old one. Right now, 
that situation exists with the three major 
systems of videotape cassettes and two 
major systems of videodisks. The last 
thing we want is for the same situation to 
be perpetuated in the held of computer 

The p-System has emulators for 20 dif- 
ferent microprocessor chips, including the 
8086/8088, he said. “A software author 
can write a program just once, and sell it 
everywhere. The user doesn’t care what 
kind of system the writer used to develop 
it, aii he wants to do is run it. In the same 
way, the writer shouidn’t have to care 
what kind of system the user is going to 
run the program on. If all the box needs is 
a p-code emulator, and that matches the 
chip inside the box, then the writer can 
connect the BIOS to it and make the pro- 
gram run." 

For the programmer, the whole 
p-System takes up 55K of p-code on a 
disk — a block of code roughly equivalent 
to I50K of machine code for an 8080 chip. 
But in any finished program, there is only 
a 3K ‘kernel" residing in memory al ail 
times; it loads other parts of the p-code 
as they are needed. ‘The ‘code pool' is 
dynamic,” Irvine said, “and varies with 
the programs' requirements. If you open a 
file, for example, the operating system 
calis up the segments of code that are used 

for manipulating files. The applications 
programmer doesn’t have to be concerned 
with how much memory the executing 
machine has; it runs as a virtual 
memory.’ That is, to the programmer or 
user, the memory size seems very large, 
but the machine is actually retrieving and 
filing pieces of memory from the disk all 
the time." 

Right now. the p-System is mainly a 
programmer’s tool, but it will come into 
its own as an operating system, Irvine 
said, when users can “pick up other peo- 
ple's software" and run them on their 
own machine. For that to happen, though, 
more application programs such as 
general ledger, spread-sheet simulation, 
word processing and games will have to be 
written In p-code Itself, Software develop- 
ment systems are currently available 
which perform the p-code translations 
from standard programming languages: 
PASCAL, FORTRAN, and Softech 
Microsystems’ own BASIC; a COBOL will 
be released later in 1982. 

“The exciting moment will come,” he 
added, “when the end users discover that 
the p-system applications programs will 
outlive their hardware! Their programs 
will continue to run even on replacement 

IX. About The End 

or her own choice of an operating system, 
but Andy Johnson-Laird is philosophical 
about the selection process. “Which is 
better? That’s like asking which is bet- 
ter — a Ford or an Oldsmobiie? They are in 
overlapping domains. Whichever you 
prefer depends on a lot of things that have 
nothing to do with their speed or accelera- 
tion: things like repair service, or the 
recommendation of a friend who owns 

“Choosing an operating system," he 
says, “ is very subjective. Non-technical 
users won’t notice if a program will run a 
few seconds faster as a result of its 
operating system. As long as a general 
ledger program, for example, runs in a 
‘timely’ fashion, they won’t care; to 
them, it’s downright miracuious that they 
can run a computer at all!” 

Hal Glatzer is a journalist and teleiision producer 
who describes himself as an ' explainer. ' ' His latest 
hook is Introduction To Word Processinj^ published 
by Sybex 

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Two years ago, this national trade exposition for computer dealers was 
held for the first time. About 180 companies set up exhibits in the Ballroom of 
the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel, and maybe 4,500 people came to see their wares. 

Last year the show expanded into the Las Vegas Convention Center’s two 
smaller halls — a space double that of the Hilton ballroom — to accommodate 
a doubled number of both exhibitors and aisle-walkers. 

Photo: The Interface Group 

And this year (November '81) COMDEX 
moved into the Convention Center s big 
East Hall, which dwarfs the other two halls 
combined. Six hundred forty-four exhibi- 
tors mounted displays of their microcom- 
puter wares, and nearly 25.000 people 
reportedly attended. It was a fitting sign for 
the year when IB.M finally decided to enter 
the world of the personal computer. 

IB.M was at CO.MDEX. with an exhibit 
booth near the entrance — a glossy thing in 
chrome and smoked Lucite. Bui in a curious 
twist the Personal Computer was not to he 
seen within. Instead. IBM was showing 
samples of its more traditional data pro- 
cessing hardware, and the blue-suited mi- 
nions attending the booth admitted to little 
knowledge of the Personal Computer. 
IB.M's b(H)th seemed one of the few places 
in the hall w here their Personal Computer 
was not a subject of major interest. 

(Speculation was that IBM chose not to 
show the PC because CO.MDEX is a show for 
dealers, and IBM already had all the interest 
it wanted from computer dealers.) 

Elsewhere on the floor, there was evi- 
dence aplenty of the interest lB.M’s PC had 
galvanized within the microcomputer 
business. Clearly, people had wasted no 
time in rising to the opportunity they 
sensed IBM was creating. 

This magazine was no exception. Six 
weeks after opening our dmirs for busi- 
ness, PC w as there exhibiting at CO.MDEX. 
handing out copies of our eight-page 
"Preview Issue." Meanwhile, our editors 
and photographer were prowling the floor 
for products inspired by the PC. To our 
glee, we found plenty, with promises of 
greater plenty to come. 

20 Add-ons in Two Months 

The pleasant shtK'ker for us was right 
dow n at the end of our aisle, in the booth of 
a Cleveland outfit called Tecmar. In about 
the same time it took us to produce our 
eight pages, Tecmar had produced a com- 
plete line of 20 add-on accessories for the 
PC. They even had an expansion adapter 
that could pass for the PC System Unit's 
twin — until you peeked inside and saw a 
5-million character Vi inchester storage disk 
where the PC has its diskette drives 

Actual IBM Personal Computers on the 
exhibit floor were relatively scarce, per- 
haps because people w ere still having dif- 
ficulty getting their hands on them, (Folks 
kept coming by to look at the PC in our 
booth and asking if we knew w here they 
could get one quick). Those who didn't 
have one were talking about them any- 

The IB.M PCs we did see on the floor 
staked out the w hole range of microcom- 
puter goods and services. In addition to 
Tecmar. there was a printing company, a 
color monitor company, a local-network 
developer, a few marketers of business 
and financial software, and no doubt 
others we missed amid all the COMDEX 
hurly-burly. One scout we talked to 
claimed to have seen twenty-five PCs 
around the hall. 

An .Automatic Program VI riter 

Some products we didn't have to find 
because they found us. Skip Tamargo, 
president of a Florida company called 
FutureSoft. commandeered the computer ^ 


sraphic, » ilh IBM Pc7"* riilwr l"' ' 1 "'“'''' 1 1. Ml 

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nese entries, and what kind of informa- 
wanted to permit in each, such as 


siST “'hen we finished de- 

us* formT ‘"r‘ Qf^'CKPIlo asked 
s for other details about the anticipated 

ize of our files and how we wanted tn 

Z"''" “’r- "" “-"P'elion, the pel 
g am crunched away for a while tLn 
presented us with a nice little BASir ^ 

gram to handle ourbooth-visitorfiteTlI^ 

P ogram had facilities to add entries to the 
ann P^^^iois entries 


slatements documenting what eacrpro 

gram section was doing. Ali in all 
bad performance. (The program ii. 
aloul of some editorial pet p, 

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thinking or calculating whi 

seemed the computer ought toLve 

dmng the work. Tamargo^rlctan. 

take advantage of PC’s special feat 


Peripherals Were Central 

lnc”Th7v‘ '’eriph, 

printer they claimed would run n 
around the one IBM sells. Their J 

looking graphics, and the MPI people^ ^ 

talking about doing some elaborate text 
printing where the letters would be done 
using a graphics rather than text ap- 
proach — allowing italics, simulated 

script, proportional spacing and other ap- 
pealing goodies. MPI has promised to lend 
PC one of these printers for further 
evaluation, and a report on it will be in a 
future issue. 

Another item we admired at COMDEX 
has already arrived at the PC offices for a 
closer look — a Color II video monitor 
from Amdek. This monitor is of the "RGB 
direct drive” type and produces spec- 
tacularly crisp, clear and stable images. 
The improvement over the "baseband" 
type display we had been using before is 
dramatic; text at the 80-column width is 
quite distinct and readable. It caught our 
eye at Amdek' s booth not only because of 
the great picture, but also because the 
cabinet design and color fit so harmoni- 
ously with the PC. We’ll have more on this 
and other color monitors in an upcoming 
issue too. 

Awards for both a great idea and great 
graphics are due to a Silicon Valley com- 
pany by the name of Destek, which was 
promoting its Desnet “local network” for 
interconnection of microcomputers. Desnet 
was being touted as "the key to computer 
city' ' and the accompanying artwork was 
uncommonly handsome for the computer 
world. The network arrangement, which 
connects into the PC and other microcom- 
puters using a SlOO plug-in card, will sup- 
posedly string together several different 
brands and models of computer Into a sys- 
tem working as a unified whole. There 
was a demonstration that showed this on 
at least a superficial level, but it will take a 
more thorough look before we can figure 
out how much compatibility Desnet really 

M.B.A.s for Sale 

In the software department, one trend 
we noted favorably was the appearance of 
integrated groups of programs that serve 
multiple purposes. The groundbreaker in 
this area is a suite of programs being sold 
under the name MBA by Context Manage- 
ment Systems of Torrance, California. 

MBA was still in the working stages for 
an anticipated spring release, but we got a 
preview look at its combination of an elec- 
tronic spreadsheet, data base manager, 
graphics displaymaker, word processor 
and communications handler. The idea, as 
Context’s Gib Hoxie explained it, is that 
managers can go into a data base to draw 
out a selected set of facts, then “change 
contexts” to move those facts into the 
spreadsheet program. There they can ma- 
nipulate them in typical “what-if’ 

spreadsheet fashion, then change contexts 
again to display the results In graphic 
form. In theory, they might then switch 
contexts again to frame a memo around 
the digested data using the word proces- 
sor. . and ultimately use the communica- 
tions handler to send the whole thing off 
to a colleague at another location. 

At COMDEX, many of these ambitious 
offerings were on display only as an en- 
thusiastic gleam in Hoxie’s eyes. But we 
did see a demonstration showing good 
progress on the general theory — even in- 
cluding the ability to split the screen into 
multiple segments and show operations 
from four different "contexts” simultane- 
ously. Context appears to have made a 
heavy investment in promoting their con- 
cept, and if a similar Investment underlies 
their final development effort we shall 
have a finished Context product to tell you 
about before long. 

More executive software for the PC was 
on display at the booth of Target Software, 
an Atlanta company recently acquired by 
Comshare, who makes software for big 
computers. Target's big gun is called 
MasterPlanner, and is described as an 
evolutionary upgrade of earlier spread- 
sheet programs. PC was treated to an 
enlightening explanation by Target’s Bob 
Ranson about the different design philoso- 
phies for such programs. Ranson described 
three categories he says the "gridsheet” 
programs can fall into — "cursor driven 
(VisiCalc), logic driver (T-Maker), and 
procedure driven (Desktop Plan )” — 
and showed how Masterplanner incor- 
porates strong points of all. His comments 
will be expanded upon in our next issue, 
when we do a comparative evaluation of 
spreadsheet programs. 

Challengers Begin to Gather 

A last item of interest at COMDEX was 
the appearance of other microcomputers 

as “the intersection of opportunity with 
preparedness.” If that is so, then Tecmar, 
Inc., in Cleveland, is a very lucky com- 
pany. Because when IBM presented them 
with an opportunity, in the form of the 
Personal Computer, Tecmar met it with 
seemingly faultless preparedness. The 

aimed at or near the PC’s territory and 
with similar capabilities. Victor Business 
Systems introduced a desktop system built 
around the same 8088 chip as the PC. It is 
said to be capable of using software de- 
signed for the PC, though it can't read PC 
diskettes since the drives are incompa- 
tible. Its disk storage capacity is double 
that of IBM’s machine, and the Victor also 
has an optional display format capable of 
showing much more information — 132 
columns by 40 rows. 

A microcomputer introduced by For- 
tune Systems, a new company, had slick 
office styling of the same type as the PC’s, 
and was designed around the allegedly 
more powerful 68000 processor chip. 
This machine garnered a great deal of at- 
tention from the crowds on the floor, and 
more will likely be heard about it, PC also 
took interested note of the Otrona Attache 
microcomputer, which we had plenty of 
time to view since their booth was right 
across from ours. The Attache, a portable 
microcomputer selling for about S3, 700, 
packs a lot of power and appeal into an 
impressively small package. It seemed to 
us that people who admire the IBM ap- 
proach to personal computers would find 
much to admire in this one if they ab- 
solutely had to have a portable. 

As for all of the COMDEX exhibitors 
who had nothing to display for the IBM 
PC, it seemed like more than half of those 
we asked claimed they were in the process 
of getting something together. 

With a year for them all to work on it, 
and judging by how much has happened in 
the first couple of months, COMDEX’S sec- 
ond year of the PC Era promises to be full 
of worthwhile thngs to write about. And 
PC, naturally, will be there to write about 

It’s going to be exciting. In fact, it 
already is. 

— ^Jim Ediin and David Bunnell 

result, a mere three months after IBM’s of- 
ficial announcement of the PC, was Tec- 
mar’s COMDEX announcement of 20 add- 
ons, expansions accessories and enhance- 
ments for it. 

The company's ads could almost be 
headed, “Everything you always wanted 
continue. . . 


Tecmar unveils a plug-in smorgasbord 



The Year I PC 

Marlin Alpfrl. Tecmar praUenl. sbouing off Ibf TecMalt line of JO K accessories. 

to add to your IBM PC,” except Tecmar 
didn’t leave people time to have wanted 
anything for very long. The product line, 
christened “TecMites,” includes: 

■ a plug-in clock/calendar module 

• a BSR X-lO-type device control module, 
and a stepper-motor controller 

■ a speech synthesizer module 

• a module to let several PCs share a 

• an expansion cabinet with a design 
matching the PC System Unit 

• a Winchester-type hard disk system 
with controller card 

■ a video digitizer, and three modules for 
analog/digital conversion 

• a selection of modules for various kinds 
of input, output and memory 

• and aids to custom circuit-board design. 
Tecmar president Martin Alpert says his 

company's preparedness was the result of 
previous work developing scientific and 
industrial electronics for use in microcom- 
puter systems that are based on the Intel 
8086 microcomputer systems that are 
based on the Intel 8086 processor. The 
8086, he says, has the same internal archi- 
tecture as the 8088 chip used in the PC. 

When IBM announced the PC, Alpert 
realized Tecmar was well positioned to 
develop produas for it. He began planning 
immediately. Alpert tells how Tecmar peo- 
ple flew to Chicago and "camped on the 
doorstep” of the Sears Business Systems 
Center to get two PCs on the first day they 
were available. “We got our logic analyzer 
on it and figured out the bus, ” he says. "It 
didn't take very long; it's very straight- 
forward with only a few confusing lines.” 
According to Alpert, between 40 and 50 
people took part in getting the produas 
ready for previewing at COMDEX. 

While Tecmar does offer a hard disk 
system, software allowing it to be used 
under the PC-DOS operating system is still 
lacking. "We’ll be talking to Microsoft 
about that very soon,” Alpert said. He 
anticipated the hard disk system would be 
available for delivery toward the end of 
February, with all the other products 
available a month or two sooner. 

A PC Twin 

Perhaps the most striking feature of the 
TecMate line, apart from its breadth and its 
speedy development, is the expansion 
cabinet’s design as a near-identical twin of 
the IBM System Unit. Tecmar has even 
copied IBM's color scheme; the only 

detectable difference (besides the name- 
plates) is a slight variation in the detailing 
of the front panel’s small, slotted grille. 
Commenting on the close resemblance, 
Alpert said, “The IBM system has been 
done right, and everything we do has to be 
done right too.” 

The TecMate item that performs the 
neatest trick is the Device Master module 
that combines clock, calendar and the sort 
of device controller that sends signals 
over electrical wiring to activate lights, 
appliances and the like. According to 
Alpert, the module, which has its own bat- 
tery power, can be used to control the 
outlet from which the Personal Computer 
itself receives power. The Device Master 
can store a command ordering the com- 

tively, like a iuggler tossing one ball. Joe 
Luciano, one of the creators of tbeMatbe- 
magic program, showed how his new 
software could take the formula 6 + 1 
and— watch carefully now— actually add 
the numbers together to come up with (ta- 
daa!) 7. 

Wow! That’s just what you spent thou- 
sands of dollars on your computer for. 

purer to be turned on at a certain time, 
then execute a command to turn the com- 
puter off, and then — using its own 
power — turn the computer back on at a 
preset time. Whereupon, if appropriate 
autostart software is in the computer, new 
times can be set and the whole cycle 
repeated. This trick, like those novelties 
whose switch activates a mechanical hand 
that then turns the switch back off, isn’t 
particularly useful, but it is neat. We ex- 
pea we will have many more practical 
uses for Tecmar’ s products to report on 
before long. 

— ^Jim Edlin 

Tecmar Inc. — 2S6O0 Mercantile Rd.. Cleteland, 
Ohio 44122 216/464-7410 

right? Well don’t applaud yet folks, be- 
cause the show gets lots more exciting. In 
the course of a 50-minute demonstration 
for PC, Luciano used his computer key- 
board to \ayeMatbemagic pick up one fig- 
urative ball after another until it seemed 
like a fountain of a dozen were coursing 
through the air. At the end of the show my 
applause was for real. 

Matbemagic is billed as software to 


A Reverse Twist: Itiming Your Computer 
into a programmable calculator. 

"turn your computer into a programmable 
calculator. ' ' It does so, but that seems a su- 
perficial description of its powers. Mathe- 
magic falls into the same gray area the 
VisiCalc program does — somewhere be- 
tween being just an “application” pro- 
gram and being a full-bore programming 

Malbemagic has a strong flavor of what 
computerists would call a “threaded in- 
terpretive language,” That weighty 
phrase describes a simple concept familiar 
to anyone who has ever used a diction- 
ary — where all the words are defined us- 
ing other words defined elsewhere in the 
dictionary’s pages. If “sneeze” is defined 

as “a blast of air from the nose” and you 
don’t know what “blast,” “air” and 
“nose” mean , you can flip to their respec- 
tive pages and look them up. Then you can 
go on to look up the words in tbeir defini- 
tions if the meaning still isn’t clear, and so 
on. Defining one word in terms of others, 
down through many layers if necessary, is 
what makes this process “threaded,” and 
flipping step-by-step to all those other 
pages is what makes it “interpretive.” 
Threaded computer languages (FORTH 
is one) are considered by many to be 
among the most advanced and powerful 
techniques for making computers respon- 
sive to human wishes. But it usually takes 


It i jit mitt 



■ > :■ M A 

E hPiaelCs 


E N IJ < ■' 


■ aTaloq gp DISH 


nisF LfFY mKLh 


a skilled programmer to deal with their 
austere intricacies. Malbemagic delivers 
similar (though more limited) powers to 
anyone who can string together the sort of 
formulas found in high-school math. 

The power of Malbemagic lies in the 
ability it gives you to define a formula, 
name it, then use the name to incorporate 
that formula in the definition of other 

You might give the name SPEED to the 
formula ?D1ST / ?T1ME (the question mark 

means the program will ask you to type in 
the value it should use for the name, the 
slash indicates “divided by”). Separately, 
you could define WEIGHT as VOLUME ' 
?MASS (the * means “times”). A previously- 
entered formula could define VOLUME as 
?HE1GHT • ’LENGTH * ?WIDTH. And a 
later formula could say FORCE = SPEED ' 
WEIGHT. The calculation of FORCE would 
then be made step-wise using all the for- 
mulas defined earlier. 

You may detect a similarity between the 

Malbemagic structure and a plain old 
BASIC program. They are akin, but for 
many purposes Malbemagic would be less 
complicated to use. Malbemagic 's named 
formulas are not unlike BASIC subrou- 
tines. but it would take sophisticated pro- 
gram editing software and some deliberate 
thought to incorporate previously-written 
subroutines into a program for a new task. 
With Malbemagic you need only indicate 
the formula by name and new programs 
will apply it wherever called for. 

Malbemagic runs by displaying three 
separate work areas on the computer 
screen — (1) a menu area that shows what 
commands you may give at each stage of 
the program, (2) an entry area that shows 
the formula you are presently creating or 
using, and (3) an answer area, which 
shows the progressive calculation then 
displays a final result after you have 
plugged all values into your formula. 

First impressions suggest the program’s 
authors have been very resourceful in 
designing the program to operate quickly 
and efficiently, but somewhat less suc- 
cessful at giving it true simplicity of use. 
The user has to do several tasks of typing, 
remembering or interpreting that, in a 
friendlier design, the computer would do 
for him. Since finishing touches for the 
program were still underway at the time of 
PCs preview, some of my complaints 
may not apply to the final version. 

The program includes facilities for stor- 
ing formulas and data on disk, and for 
printing out results with or without show- 
ing all the step-at-a-time intermediate 
calculations, One-step-at-a-time calcula- 
tion can also be displayed on the screen, 
giving the program much potential for ed- 
ucational use. The printouts are designed 
to serve principally as written records of 
what calculation took place, and don't 
provide much leeway in formatting or in- 
cluding notes and comments for later ref- 

Like VisiCalc and other spreadsheet 
programs, Malbemagic is a general- 
purpose product which can be adapted to 
many different lines of work and study, 
just by changing the formulas entered into 
it. Both are good for “what if work, but 
Malbemagic is designed for linear, se- 
quential calculations rather than the two- 
and three-dimensional grids the spread- 
sheets calculate. Obvious uses can be im- 
agined for people working in the sciences, 
engineering, social sciences, the quan- 
titative side of business, and wherever 
else numeric formulas are employed. 

—Jim Edlln 

International Software Marlteling. 120 £ 

V'asbtnglon St.. Siraeme. .\ew i'orti lj202 


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single sheet paper load option with 
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paper paths to worry about. All this in 
addition to the standard adjustable width 
tractor drive, dot graphics, 1,000 character 
buffer, dual parallel/serial interface, dual fonts 
and much more. Another good reason to select 
an MPI printer. 

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Jean L« Yates and Pr« Rebecca Thomas 


Or: Six Micros is Not Enoush 

EDITORIAL COMMENT: As a matter of pure happenstance, / live only blocks away from 
one of the most effervescent, brilliant and unusually outspoken personalities in 
Microdom — the nearly indomitable Jean Yates (a name almost anyone who follows this 
industry mil recognize, as her prognostications have appeared everywhere from Time to 
The Economist to The Wali Street Journal/ / say nearly indomitable because / uitnessed 
the time when Jean met her match, in the form of my 12-year-old stepdaughter. Jennifer 
Poitier. There were six of us sitting at a table at one of San Francisco 's finest Chinese 
restaurants. Tien Fu. when the exchange of barbs and witticisms began. For a full hour- 
and-a-balf Jean and Jennifer engaged in a conversational due! that left the rest of us 
stunned and speechless. If ever there is a true nationcd TV show about microcomputers 
(The ComputerWorld entry is not it), these two should be hostesses. In the meantime, it is 
important. / think, for readers of PC to become acquainted with Jean Yates, whose in- 
sights into this business are sought out by major companies and publications throughout 
the world. Jean 's long-time associate. Dr. Rebecca Tbomas, known as ' Becca " to her 
frieruis. is a refined person who sits at Jean 's side with a wry smile and usually doesn t 
get much involved in the conversation. However, for those of us who have gotten to know 
Rebecca, it is obvious that she is a vital cog in the wheel that keeps Jean 's mind spinning 
to ever-new insights. Personally. / think Jean and Rebecca are equally brilliant and / am 
pleased that they agreed to write a column for PC. / hope you agree. — DHB. 

Many of the people we meet, both in 
and out of the computer industry, ask us at 
some point, “Do you own a personal com- 

“We own six,” we answer (give or take 
a few depending on what we’re up to), 

“So what do you do will with ail those 
computers?’’ is the inevitable response. 

Since this is a question that a lot of peo- 
ple considering buying a system ask, and 
since many IBM PCers are new to personal 
computing, we would like to share some 
of the things that make our six computers 
indispensible to us. 

Our use of personal computers breaks 
down breaks down three ways: home, 
business, and hobby. 

As far as home use is concerned, we 
maintain our personal checkbook, credit 
card and other records, categorizing them 
by deduction. Then the computer prints a 
listing at the end of the year for each 
category of the long form, and we just fill 
in the blanks. We own an Apple II and an 
Atari game computer, and use them for 
playing computer games and accessing 
timesharing facilities that have lots of in- 
teresting home-oriented features. Time- 
sharing with “The Source” or other con- 

sumer “teletex” facilities gives us access 
to services ranging from restaurant guides 
for major cities, to hundreds of games, to 
electronic bulletin boards on many topics, 
to educational programs for children and 

Telephone and address lists are kept on 
our computers, and we also use a program 
that simulates a datebook to schedule ap- 
pointments. It looks ahead and tells us if 
the time is free, and we can keep track of 
everyone's schedules when planning 
meetings or meals. 

We have a large mailing list, divided 
into several categories. Some are per- 
sonal, some are personal business, like 
credit card companies and banks, and 
others are lists for charitable organiza- 
tions for which we have volunteered to 
maintain their mailings and accounting 

Recently, we implemented a computer 
program that lists our insured property, 
both personal and business. We sent a 
copy to the insurance company and put a 
copy of the disks in a safety deposit box. 
When the list needs changing, a printout 
of it can be updated. When writing off 
depreciation on business equipment, this 
list will be used again. 

The business uses made of our com- 
puters are numerous. 

We have two Vector Graphic computers, 
which are used for letter and manuscript 
writing (word processing), for recording 
and managing the large files of literature 
that we maintain on the microcomputer 
industry, and for accounting functions. 
Although our “database” of files is on 
computers, the same things could be done 
to manage inventories or files of informa- 
tion on your company’s interests. 

We estimate that we have written 
almost 5,000 pages of published text on 
our computers. This ranges from books to 
market research texts to newsletters to 
magazine articles. We keep the articles and 
books on an electronic index so that pieces 
of one that are relevant to a new project 
don't have to be started from scratch. This 
saves a lot of time. 

You may have heard of VisiOlc™, a 
program available for the IBM Personal 
Computer that lets your perform “what- 
if’ analyses. We use a program like 
VisiCalc to perform financial modeling and 
forecasting functions for our own com- 
pany and for our clients. It’s particularly 
useful when combined with a plotting pro- 
gram that turns the data into graphics, 
which can be printed out or photographed 
for slides for presentations. We find it 
much easier to understand trends when 
we use ‘ ' what-if ’ programs and then look 
at the graphic representation. 

Rebecca and her coworkers in program- 
ming use two of our systems for develop- 
ment work. They contain more complex 
16-bit microprocessors and operating 
system programs. She uses them to write 
books as well, actually writing about the 
programs that run the computers. That’s 
how we wrote The User Guide to the UNIX 
System, an introductory text from 

People say that we are unusual, two 
women with so many computers, but we 
feel that we have just found an interesting 
and lucrative way to experiment with 
computers and include their efficiency- 
adding properties in our lives. 


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book-producing firm located in Tiburon, California. He is 
also one of the first owners and users of the IBM Personal 

Fiuegelman purchased the computer in late October, 
receiving one of the initial group of PCs distributed by 
ComputerLand of San Francisco. 

Jeremy Joan Hewes 

His system includes the PC with 64K of 
memory, two disk drives, the mono- 
chrome display, and the asynchronous 
communications adapter. In addition to 
the BASIC that comes with the computer, 
he has purchased the EasyWriter word 
processor and the VisiCalc electronic 
worksheet program. Subsequently he add- 
ed a letter-quality printer, although he 
worked with only the computer and disk 
drives for the first few weeks of opera- 

As a member of the publishing commu- 
nity. Fiuegelman is aware of the compu- 
ter's increasing applications to his Field, 
and he believes that his unique position as 
a book producer makes this technology 
even more appropriate for his business. 

"I’m running a book-producing company 
and operating out of the mainstream — on 
the West Coast, as an Independent. I per- 
ceived that for me to stay competitive in 
my field, I had to be on the front of the 

lllustnitiofi by James Mo 


lechnology; I couldn't afford to be left be- 
hind by it. I also feel that publishing is go- 
ing to be affected tremendously by compu- 
ter technology, and I had to know about it 
and be in that arena rather than out of it ' 
In his role as an independent producer, 
Fluegelman takes a book from the idea 
stage through the writing, design and 
typesetting phases, and often through the 
printing as well. Before commiting his ma- 
jor resources to a project, however, he 
makes a publishing agreement w ith one of 
the national firms, such as Doubleday or 
Penguin. The large publisher then contri- 
butes toward the costs of producing the 
book and distributes it nationally. The na- 
tional firm's name is on the cover as pub- 
lisher. and Headlands Press is credited on 
the title page, or given w hat is commonly 
called an imprint. Among the hooks that 
bear the Headlands imprint are The New 
Games Book, More ,\ew Games and How to 
.Make and Sell your Ou'n Record. 

continufti . . 

9d , 

“/f almost instantly felt like 
an extension of myself . . as 
though I had 2,000 extra 
brains grafted onto my 

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For all practical purposes, then, 
Headlands Press operates as a conven- 
tional publisher in the way it develops a 
concept and manuscript for each book. 
This generally requires many letters, 
memos and book proposals, not to men- 
tion at least two or three drafts of a 
manuscript before the editorial process 
is complete. Consequently, the savings in 
time and money that word processing 
could provide, as well as the ease of 
writing and revising his own material, 
were obvious to Fluegelman. 

JVew Projects Easier To 
Take On 

“Because I have this capacity to deal 
with written material in a more efficient 
way,” he points out, "it’s easier for me to 
think of taking on new projects. Previous- 
ly a manuscript would come in and I’d 
look at it and say, 'Well, how much revi- 
sion is this going to take?’ or 'How many 
drafts is this going to have to go through?’ 
And all I would see would be a pack of 
proofreading and drudgery and trouble. It 
seems easier to deal with that now. I'll 
have it put on a word processing system 
and maybe have a basic edit done, and 
then get the manuscript back on my sys- 
tem and look at it. Word processing en- 
courages the nth revision.” 

This capacity is a distinct departure 
from old methods of dealing with manu- 
scripts and deadlines, he reports. "There 
were so many times in previous books 
when ways of making it better were pass- 
ed up because it was just physically too 
difficult or the deadline prevented it. And 
that’s a power that I see coming to my 
business with the computer — I can make 
all the changes that will make my writing 

better and the manuscripts I produce bet- 

Fluegelman’s commitment to buy a mi- 
crocomputer was sealed when he decided 
to be producer and co-author of a book 
about writing with computer technology. 
(This book, calied Writing in the Com- 
puter Age, will be published late this 
year.) “Doing this book was the motiva- 
tion to walk into the store and buy the 
computer. I’ve said that I needed a com- 
puter in my business because 1 perceived 
that this technology is changing the nature 
of publishing. And that is also true for 
writing. When I had the realization, it led 
me to see that the nature of writing itself is 
being transformed. Many people are going 
out to buy word processors for their spe- 
cific needs or find that they have ended up 
with word processing because they bought 
a computer and have this capability. But 
people have not yet looked at — or re- 
looked at — the nature of the writing aa, 
the writing craft, and what it is like now 
that they have this new tool. That’s the 
subject we’re addressing in this book, and 
1 think that it will be of help to writers 
who are thinking about using word pro- 
cessing in their writing. But it will also be 
helpful to writers who have systems and 
maybe have learned the particular com- 
mands but haven’t had the benefit of all 
the tips that we are collecting from many, 
many users.” 

Behind The Oernsion 

Like many major decisions that a 
businessperson makes, the seemingly “in- 
stant ” impetus for Fleugelman’s com- 
puter purchase had a somewhat more 
lengthy history. He recalls that he attend- 
ed one of the early computer fairs in San 

Francisco about four years ago, with the 
intention of learning about the relatively 
new phenomenon of personal computers. 

“But here was all this stuff, and words 
that I didn’t know — even the term ’floppy 
disk’ was intimidating then. There were 
all these poeple, totally involved and i 
engrossed, and I realized that I did not | 
know the first thing about putting together | 
this information. I came away feeling that 
I was going to have to learn how to 
operate a soldering gun before I was ever 
going to get into the computer world.” 

But as his understanding of the utility of 
microcomputers to publishing and writing 
increased, so did his motivation to learn 
the language and conquer the technology. 
“When I had a tangible, practical use for 
the technology. I had to start assimilating 
information — to understand what storage 
was about, what operating systems were, 
and what different types of software were 
available.” He found that two books were 
especially helpful to him in this orienta- 
tion : Adam Osborne’ s The Business System \ 

Buyer s Guide (Osborne/McGraw-Hill) and 
Crash Course in Microcomputers (by Louis 
Frenzel; published by Sams). 

Then he began visiting stores and using 
a friend’ s word processor to get the feel of 
the technology. Fluegelman pursued this 
careful, rational course for several weeks 
last summer, at just about the time that 
IBM announced its Personal Computer. As 
part of his search, he went to see IBM’s 
display model of this system. 

‘‘This Is It— This is The 

“After at least two months of going into 
stores, looking at machines, poring 
through the depths of Byte and every 
other magazine, trying to assimilate and 
evaluate all the information, I really took 
one look at the PC and said, 'This is 
it — this is the one.’ And it was not ra- 
tional at all. 1 was pleased to find when I 
investigated the specifications that they 
were good and that the PC does seem to be 
adaptable and upwardly mobile. I feel that 
anything I’m likely to want to do is going 
to be possible with this computer. ” 

One reason for his knowing right away 
that this was the computer he wanted is 
the design of the machine. “1 think its 
esthetics are great. I believe that 
something you interact with every day, 
especially if it’s going to become an exten- 
sion of yourself, should be pleasing from 
an esthetic or design point of view. It’s im- 
portant that you'll enjoy spending time 
with it." 

One of the most appealing features fur 
his use of the computer is the detached 
keyboard. “For me as a writer, the 

amtinued. . . 


minimal nature of the keyboard is a plus. I 
plan on doing a lot of writing with the 
keyboard sitting on my lap, without the 
rest of the machine sitting in front of me. 
It gives me the chance to not be con- 
fronted by lots of machinery and equip- 
ment all the time. That’s a big plus to me. ” 

Perhaps the principal attraction of the 
PC for him, though, is its manufacturer. 
“One of the things that motivated me to 
buy the IBM PC,’’ Fluegelman explains, 
“is that it has obviousiy been conscious- 
ly created as a consumer product — and as 
near as I can figure out, a weli-thought- 
out consumer product. I have no special 
good or bad feeling about IBM as a com- 
pany, but for a huge firm — especially one 
that has the reputation for doing things 
right — to be a making a major investment 
in an uncharted area, I just had to believe 
that they have carefully created an in- 
tegrated system that was going to work 
right and that was going to be satisfactory 
to me as a product. I had the feeling that I 
wasn’t buying any strange sur- 
prises — that the whole thing was going to 
work without my having to pick up a 
soldering gun. And if the whole thing 
didn’t work, that IBM would somehow 
take care of it. ’ ’ 

Knowing that he would be working on a 
book about word processing, he ordered 
the PC and found the ComputerLand 
salespeople very helpful in getting his 
system to him as soon as they received the 
machines. There was a slight delay in his 
receiving the Easy Writer program, how- 
ever, so he began working with BASIC and 

M*C Was Immediately 

Even without the word processor, An- 
drew found that the PC was immediately 
useful to him in his business. 'Tve been 
amazed at how useful it’s been already," 
he notes. “The VisiCalc program is very 
valuable in keeping track of my financial 
information, especially because my busi- 
ness is unusual in that my finances are 
very low volume in one sense — I don't 
have 10,000 customers — but very com- 
plex in that almost every one of the 50 to 
50 checks I write each month has to be ac- 
counted for separately. I’ve got a dozen 
book projects, and I have 20 to 30 expense 
categories, and I need to accoynl for every 
one of them. So where many small busi- 
nesses are characterized by a large volume 
of routine transactions, my business is 
characterized by a small volume of com- 
plex transactions” 

“I set up VisiCalc to keep track of my 
cash flow items for the next year-and-a- 
half; I made assumptions of what sales 

would be, what royalties would be, what 
my overhead was likely to be. Before I 
programmed in all that information, I real- 
ly thought in terms of saving money — if I 
do this myself, will it save money because 
I won’t have to pay a bookkeeper for so 
much time. But what I realized instantly 
when I had the information in the com- 
puter is that the control that I have over 
this information is of such a different 
dimension that it is just not comparable 
with my old bookkeeping system. The 
ease of moving and playing with that in- 
formation gives me an insight into my 
business beyond what I possibly could 
have ever done by hand, and just having 
that is worth half of what the whole 
system is costing me” 

Another immediate business use he has 
made of the PC is to write his own ac- 
counting program in BASIC. “The pro- 
gram I’m writing now in BASIC is going to 
write the checks for me, keep the check- 
book balanced, and print the ledger. I’ve 
got the main part running; it’s just left for 
me to put the little features I want into it. I 
pretty much made it up out of thin air; I 
copied a business program out of a book, 
but it was so far away from the' way I 
wanted my books to be that I just aban- 
doned it. But it helped me get a handle on 
how to program using random access flies, 
which is really sticky. It took me a while to 
get a handle on that. ’ ' 

Considering that the PC is his first com- 
puter and that he had used it for only two 
weeks when he began writing this pro- 
gram, Fluegelman's experience seems 
quite unusual. “Maybe I just learned to 
write a program by enthusiasm," he sug- 
gests. But he has put in a good deal of time 
and study, and the process of writing his 
own accounting program has been one of 
intense experimentation. 

200 Hours of Learning 

“I read Bob Albrecht’s book (BASIC A 
Self-Teaching Guide, by Albrecht, Finkel, 
and Brown; published by Wiley) when I 
was traveling recently, and then I studied 
a book of BASIC games to see what pro- 
grams were really like. This was before I 
had the computer, so I could only read 
about programming. And I’ve put in a lot 
of hours — I’d say I’ve spent 200 or 300 
hours learning this stuff. 

“One day I wasn't quite getting this 
ledger program the way I wanted it. I was 
using a function that tells you where in the 
random files you are. and I just kept get- 
ting weird results. It had a pattern to it, 
but it just didn't make any sense. I was so 
frustrated — I had tried everything I could 
think of to make it work right. So I called 
.Microsoft in Seattle ( the producer of BASIC 

for the PC) and ended up speaking with 
the guy who spend a year adapting BASIC 
for this machine. I told him about the pro- 
blem and asked him what to do about it. 
He gave me an insight into what might be 
happening, and it instantly made sense to 
me. It was something that was not covered 
in the manual. I was glad to have the 
answer, and I was thrilled to be able to 
describe the problem to an expert after on- 
ly two weeks with the computer” 

One “Glitch” So Far 

Fluegelman has had one human- 
induced ‘glitch’’ so far — and has learned 
an important lesson from it. “All the peo- 
ple I talked to and everything I read about 
working with the computer said ‘save 
your work, save your work,' but I don’t 
think there’s any way you can ever ap- 
preciate that advice until you've spent the 
last two hours assembling and recording 
some financial information and you open 
your file drawer to get the last piece of 
data that you need, and the drawer kicks 
the plug out of the wall, crashing the 
machine to a halt and fading all your data 
into ether” 

Despite that time-consuming error, An- 
drew Fluegelman is feeling none of the in- 
timidation or apprehension that marked 
his first step into the computer world. “I 
think that what keeps 95 percent of people 
feeling weird about computers is learning 
how to boot the machine — how to get the 
thing running. You sit there in front of it, 
and you don’t know how to get it started. 
You're afraid that it’s going to snap at you 
or gobble you up or go up in smoke if you 
don’t do the right thing. And I think the 
other great fear — and I’m speaking as so- 
meone who was one of those outsiders — 
is that when you get it running, it’s going 
to lead you into some ‘black hole’ that you 
won't be able to get out of. 

“2,000 Extra Brains At 
My Command” 

“But when I started playing with my 
computer," he continues, “I stopped feel- 
ing that it was a machine that was doing 
things to me; it almost instantly felt like an 
extension of myself. It was as though I had 
had 2,000 extra brains grafted onto my 
skull. I really had that feeling — here are 
these extra brains, and they’re really at 
my command, for me to string together or 
build together in any way that I choose. ’ ' 

Would you or someone you know be a good sub- 
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Book Excgrpt 

DON'T! By Rednay Xaks 

Chapter 3 


In bis preface to DON'T (Or How To Care 
For Your Computer), author Rodnay Zaks 
notes, ’ 'It is true that persona! computers 
have become so simple that anyone can 
operate them uHtb no prior training, ami 
without any real risk — at least in the 
beginning. " 

' 'However, ' ' Zaks continues, ' 'if a com- 
puter is used for business purposes, 
suitable precautions must be taken to 
safeguard information and insure reliable 

( Dr. Kodnay Zaks, president of 
Sybex. Inc., is the author of 
numerous books on atl facets of computers, in- 
cluding Your First Computer. 

operation. " DON’T is a book of detailed 
advice about such precautions. Zaks says, 
"The operative word is generally DON'T! 
hence the title. Quite simply, DON’T 
. . . unless you know what you are 

The book's thirteen chapters offer 
DON’Ts (and some DOs) concerning 
printers, software, security and other 
essenticd matters. Especially for IBM PC 
owners who are new to persona! com- 
pulers, the follouing chapter about floppy 
disks from DON’T could help avert 
anything from aggravation to disaster. 
(Old ban^ pay attention too: Zaks points 
a finger at many sloppy practices induiged 
in around the PC offices.) 

PUTER), by Rodniy Ealu— Sybci, t98l— 244 


main cause of failures in any computer 
system that uses them. Nearly all such 
failures are caused by user mishandling. 
These failures can be prevented by respect- 
ing the rules presented in this chapter. A 
careful reading and understanding of the 
information presented in this chapter will 
probably eliminate 75 % of the failures that 
are apt to happen on a computer system 
with floppy disks. 

Failures due to diskette mishandling 
usually have tragic consequences. They can 
destroy crucial data or cause strange symp- 
toms that are hard to diagnose. 

Here is a typical horror story. 

In order to start Computer System A. a 
diskette is inserted into one of the disk 
drives, and a command is typed at the ter- 
minal. Normally, the effect of this com- 
mand is to toad the contents of a program 
from the diskette into the computer's 

Unfortunately, one morning the com- 
puter system, which was operating perfectly 

For the Heme 
Computer User 

The main rule is: 

Back-up each invariant diskette 
before using it. 

Other important rules are: 

• Respect the physical and magnetic 
integrity of the diskette: Don’t touch 
its exposed surface. Don’t fold it or 
compress it. Don’t place diskettes 
near magnetic coils or magnetized 

•Label the diskette promptly. Don’t 
use a hard-tipped pen. 

• Maintain the proper environment: 
avoid heat and dust. 

•Read this entire chapter. It is the 
most important one for you if you 
use diskettes. 

up to Oris trine, began to resist ail attempts 
to load from Ox diskette. As a result, no 
work could be done on Ox computer. The 
maintenance person was called in, showed 
up Ox next day, took Ox computer apart, 
reassembled it, and mumbl^ something 
about a bad contact in Ox XYZ unit. The 
computer began operating again. 

A few uveks later, a new problem oc- 
curred: this time, the computer started 
properly. However, the data file contain- 
ing all the customer names could no longer 
be read. After replacing a few boards in- 
side the computer, all in vain, the main- 
tenance man concluded that the software 
was bad. In Ibis 'fortunate" case, the 
company that provided the software deter- 
mined that the software was good and sus- 
pected the diskette that held the customer 
names. After much debate between the 
hardware supplier and the software ven- 
dor. the conclusion was drawn that both 
the hardware and the software appeared 
to be working, but the data file was bad. 

To make a long story short, one of the 
computer operators had used a ball-point 
pen to label the diskettes. In doing so, the 
operator damaged the contents of the disk- 
ettes by applying pressure against their 
cardboard jackets. With the pressure of a 
pen. dust present inside a jacket is im- 
bedded on the diskette, thus damaging it. 
The first time the pen was used, the main 
system diskette used to store the operating 
system was damaged. The second time, an 
essential dala diskette was damaged. 
Unfortunately, the damage that bad oc- 
curred to the data diskette was not im- 
mediately detected, and the offending 
operator was not around when Hx system 
failed. Easy diagnosis was no longer possi- 

This story illustrates the ‘'time bomb" 
effect that can occur when operators mis- 
handle the equipment. The problem could 
have been easily prevented had the oper- 
ator been trained in proper diskette hand- 
ling. The hardware and software both op- 
erated correctly; the problem occurred 
because of an inadequately trained opera- 
tor who damaged several diskettes in an 
almost unnoticeahle way. 

To avoid the “time bomh" effect, pro- 
per discipline must be used and enforced 
for the handling of diskettes. Remember 
that most actions that damage a diskette 
do not damage it in a way that is immedi- 
ately visible. For example, contamination 
by dust or physical damage may not be de- 
tected until days or even months later 
when the affected area of the diskette is 
read hy the disk drive. At that point, the 
computer might be fooled by incorrect in- 
formation on the diskette and, conse- 
quently, irreparably damage the entire 

Once you understand the proper pre- 
cautions that must be used when handling 
a diskette, you can avoid many problems 
by simply using common sense. 

Your Diskette 

We will now present the main defini- 
tions relating to diskettes, examine the 
main techniques used for recording data, 
and discuss the techniques for retrieving 
the information that was recorded. We 
will then proceed to the proper handling 













of a diskette. Let us examine first the 
diskette itself, then its jacket. 

The diskette is flexible and constructed 
of mylar material, coated with a magnetic 
oxide. It is enclosed in a square jacket, and 
rotates inside the jacket when being ac- 
cessed. The jacket is lined on the inside 
with a special low friction material that 
automatically cleans the diskette hy trap- 
ping dust particles. 

Data Rccordins 

Data is recorded on the disk in binary 
format as sequences of Os and Is (bits), 
and stored as magnetic patterns along con- 
centric circles called tracks. A regular 8 
inch diskette generally has 77 tracks, 
while a 5- % inch minidiskette can have 
35, 40 or 77 tracks per surface. As shown 
in Figure 3.2. information is structured in 
sectors along the tracks. A whole sector is 
always read or written at a time, and all 
data on the disk is identified by a sector 
number and a track number. Each track 
can be accessed by moving the head of the 
disk drive along a radius of the disk. 

A mechanism must be provided so that 
the disk drive may identify any given sector 
on any track. We have already seen that 
one of two techniques may be used for this 
purpose: hard sectoring and soft sectoring. 

The read/write head of the disk drive 
operates like the head of a tape-recorder. 
The head is applied against the disk sur- 
face, while a felt pressure pad is applied 
against the other side. Any defects in the 
disk surface, such as dirt or creases, will 
thus cause loss of information. 

When a disk drive is misadjusted, or 
when the head is dirty, the surface of the 
diskette is generally damaged, resulting in 
shiny rings on the surface of the diskette. 
Inspect your diskettes regularly fur such 

We have already seen that data may be 
recorded in one of two formats. Data may 
be recorded at the surface of the disk 
either in a single-density format (3,408 
bits per inch or bpi) or in a double-density 
format (6,816 bpi). 

The jacket containing the diskette has 
several roles: protecting the diskette, 
allowing access to the drive motor and to 
the drive sensors. These roles are accom- 
plished by the special jacket liner already 
described and by specialized openings. 
These openings will now be described. 

The Jacket 

The jacket has several openings. The 
center hole or disk bub allows the spindle 
of the disk drive motor to grasp and rotate 
the diskette inside the jacket at high 
speed. A diskette should be replaced when 
the edge of the hole is cracked or torn. 

The access slot in the jacket (shown in 
Details of a Diskette Figure) allows the 

DON’T cmHtmed. . 

read-write head of the disk drive to come 
in contact with the diskette and to read or 
write information on the surface of the 

The index bole on the diskette marks 
the position of the first sector. A sensor in 
the drive detects the index hole as it passes 
by the corresponding jacket hole. Recall 
that a hard sectored disk has maybe 20 or 
52 sector holes In addition to the index 
hole. A soft sectored disk has only one in- 
dex hole. The hole is normally on the in- 
side of the disk, except for Memorex disks, 
where the outer part of the disk is used. 

The write protect or write enable notch 
is optional. This notch may be used to pre- 
vent accidental writing of information on 
the disk. A write protect or write enable 
notch allows the user to protect valuable 
programs or data from inadvertent 
writing. With an 8-inch floppy, the 
diskette is w rite-protected when the notch 
is exposed, i.e., no information may then 
be written on the disk. If the notch is 
covered with a small aluminized square, 
data may be freely w ritten on the disk. In 
the case of a mini floppy, this convention 
is reversed. Information on the disk is pro- 
tected when the notch is covered; other- 
wise, it is not protected. Diskettes are sold 

either with or without a protection notch. 
This feature must be specified at the time of 

Alignment/strain relief notches are used 
to position the diskette correctly. They 
normally face towards the rear of the disk 

Having learned the various types of 
diskettes, how data is recorded, and the 
purpose of the various openings in the 
jacket, let us now learn how to handle a 
diskette properly. 


Handling the Diskette 

Proper diskette handling is essential to 
the reliable operation of your system. Im- 
proper diskette handling probably causes 
most “computer problems. ” Improper 
handling “pollutes” the diskette by damag- 
ing a few bits (or more) of information. The 
damage may only be detected much later, 
thus causing the time-bomb effect for the 
same user or a subsequent one. 

Once you understand the nature of your 
diskette and are aware of the main dan- 
gers, proper diskette handling is quite sim- 

ple. Most importantly, you must respect 
the physical and magnetic integrity of 
your diskette. 

Remember the four main characteristics 
of a diskette; 

• It is fragile. 

• The data is recorded on a magnetic 
surface, which is sensitive to elec- 
tromagnetic fields. 

• The magnetic surface is exposed to 
the environment through the open- 
ings in the jacket. 

• There is only one correct way to in- 
sert a diskette. 

Let us examine the rules resulting from 
these characteristics: 

• Respect the physical integrity of a 

•Don’t bend or fold a diskette. 

•Don't touch the surface of a disk- 
ette. The oily chemicals secreted by 
the skin of your fingers will perma- 
nently damage an area of a diskette. 

• Keep all sources of magnetic fields 
away from diskettes, including mag- 
nets as well as magnetized objects. 

• Maintain the proper working envi- 
ronment. Avoid heat, moisture and 

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• Insert the diskette into the drive pro- 

It is unfortunate that many computer 
users do not believe in taking strict pre- 
cautions because they see no immediate ill 
effects. Because damage generally occurs 
to only a very small area of the diskette, 
the diskette might be used for a long time 
with no visible effect. It is only when data 
is read or written to or from the damaged 
area that strange problems start to occur. 
Because the data stored at the damaged 
area is modified, the system might start 
behaving in a strange way that is not di- 
rectly traceable to a bad diskette. Hence, 
the strange behavior may be attributed to 
bad hardware or software, thereby elud- 
ing easy detection. It is therefore im- 
perative to insist on proper diskette handl- 
ing by all users. 

Now that we know how to handle a 
diskette properly, we are ready to use it. 

Usins the Diskette 

When using a diskette, four essential 
recommendations apply: 

1 . Protect each new diskette. 

2. Insert the diskette correctly. 

3. Follow a proper power-up/power- 
down procedure. 

4. Inspect diskettes each time they are 

Let us examine these recommendations. 

Protect Each New DiskcMc 

Each diskette is normally contained in a 
paper envelope. When you first receive a 
diskette, immediately inspect the enve- 
lope for signs of obvious damage. Remove 
the diskette from the envelope and inspect 
it for damage. A diskette that has been 
physically damaged should be presumed 
to be bad and must be rejected. Don’t 
touch the magnetic surface of a diskette 
with your fingers or any sharp object. 

Remember: if the diskette contains a 
new program that you have just received, 
your first reflex should be to make a copy 
of the diskette and to file the original away 
in a safe location. W ork with the copy that 
you have created. No exceptions. No ex- 

If you ever wipe out the only copy of a 
new program that you have just received, 
you will be convinced that this recommen- 
dation is correct. Unfortunately, by that 
time, it will be too late. This is one area 
where bitter experience should not be re- 

If you are not yet familiar with disk- 

ettes, set the write-protect mode on your 
diskette, by either peeling off or sticking 
on the aluminum square on the notch (de- 
pending on the diskette size), if your disk- 
ette has this feature. Use a blank diskette 
for writing information rather than the 
one that contains the program. Using the 
write-protect mode wili prevent errone- 
ous writing or erasure of information on 
your program diskette — provided you in- 
sert it correctly. 

Now insert the diskette by applying the 
"rule of thumb." 

Insert The Diskette Correctly 

Hold the diskette in your right hand be- 
tween your thumb and index finger, plac- 
ing your thumb on top of the square disk- 
ette label. Open the door of your disk 
drive and insert the diskette, slowly and 
firmly until you hear a “click." Then 
close the door of your drive (if it has one). 
In most cases, disk drives are designed so 
that you will correctly insert the diskette 
automatically if you follow the “rule of 
thumb,” i.e., if, when you hold it, your 
thumb is pressing against the diskette's 

When a disk drive is mounted vertical- 
ly, it is usually on the right side of the 
screen or the computer, and the diskette 
label usually faces to the left. When the 
disk drive is mounted horizontally, the 
diskette label normally faces up. The lon- 
gitudinal head access slot is normally in- 
serted first, in the direction of the drive. 

If you insert the diskette the wrong 
way, damage to the data stored on the 
diskette may result. 

There are eight different ways to insert 
a diskette, but there is only one correct 
way. Any other way might damage it. If 
unskilled operators will be using your 
diskettes, it may be a good idea to print 
labels that display a large arrow and to 
place an arrow on each disk jacket indi- 
cating the proper way to insert the disk- 
ette. This will help to reduce errors when 
the diskette is inserted into the disk drive. 

To remove the diskette, open the door 
of the disk drive, pull the diskette out, and 
put it back into its envelope immediately. 
Then, place the diskette on a horizontal 
surface auayfrom the computer or other 
electromagnetic equipment or put it in its 
proper holder or container. (These hold- 
ers will be described later in this chapter). 

As a generai rule, never insert a disk- 
ette into a disk drive until power to the en- 
tire computer system has been turned on. 
If the computer can be turned on separate- 
ly from the disk drive, it might accidental- 
ly write random data on the diskette. In 

systems w here the disk drive is powered 
directly from the main computer, a 
diskette may generally be inserted in the 
disk drive before the system is powered 
up. If in doubt, don't insert a diskette until 
power has been turned on. 

Conversely, always remove the diskette 
prior to turning the system off. If the 
system is turned off while the diskette is 
still in the disk drive, random data might 
accidentally be written onto the diskette, 
thus wiping out some of its contents. 
Inspect your Diskette 

Periodically inspect the round hole at 
the center of the diskette. This hole con- 
tacts with the hub that presses on the disk- 
ette and rotates it at high speed inside its 
jacket. Over time, this hole will deterio- 
rate. Most of the damage occurs because of 
improper insertion. Most microcomputer 
disk drives simultaneously apply the read/ 
write head and the hub to the diskette so 
that the diskette positions itself with the 
hub already through the hole. As a result 
indentations may appear. Once this hole is 
damaged, the diskette should be replaced. 

Also, examine the surface of the disk- 
ette that is visible through the head access 
hole. Over time, shiny rings will appear. 
However, scratches, folds, or very shiny 
wide rings indicate trouble. When these 
signs appear, test your diskette with a 
special program, or simply discard it. 


One of the most important defensive 
measures when using diskettes is to fre- 
quently make a backup copy of the infor- 
mation stored on the diskette. Always 
assume that at some point the data con- 
tained on the diskette will be damaged, 
either by yourself or by someone else. 
Therefore, as soon as any significant 
change is made on the diskette, a copy 
should be created and stored at a safe loca- 

When backing-up a diskette, it is 
recommended that you store the copy at a 
different location than the location where 
the original is being stored. The reason is 
quite simple. An undisciplined user is like- 
ly to pollute the original diskette and then 
pollute the backup diskette if it is readily 
accessible. To guarantee a reliable backup, 
the duplicates should be stored far away 
from the original that they intend to pro- 
tect. Don’t hesitate to create multiple 
backups but make sure that they are all 
properly labeled. Always write the date 

DON'T amtinued 

when the copy w as made on the label of 
the backup diskette. (Remember: use a 
soft-tip felt pen only — don't use a ball- 
point pen or a pencil). 

Vfe have now learned how a diskette 
looks, how it works, how to handle it. and 
how to insert it. There is still more to 
learn: how to label it. how to store it, as 
well as how to maintain a suitable en- 
vironment. Let us examine these topics. 


Surprisingly, labeling can be a major 
source of problems for two reasons: 

1 . Hidden damage to diskette can be in- 
curred when writing on the label: 

2 . Insufficient identification may result in 
misuse, erroneous filing or accidental 

Let us examine these two problems in 

Wriliiis On The Label 

Remember: when writing on a label on 
a diskette, never use a hard pencil or ball- 
point pen. Pressure exerted on the label 
can damage the diskette underneath by ei- 
ther deforming the diskette or by pressing 
dust particles captured by the lining inside 
the jacket into the magnetic surface of the 
diskette. When writing on the label, use 
only a soft felt-tip pen. As a general rule, it 
is best to write on a separate label and then 
carefully affix that label to the diskette. 

Also, don't use an eraser to erase a la- 
bel. Residue from an eraser will find its 
way first into the envelope and from there 
to the magnetic surface of the diskette 
where it will cause damage. 

Identify the Diskette 

Whenever you modify the contents of a 
diskette, identify it properly. In time many 
copies of a file are created. Unless they are 
properly identified, much aggravation can 
result from using or destroying the wrong 
version. Immediately after use, always 
label each diskette with at least the follow- 
ing information. 

1 . The name of the file 

2. The date 

In addition, it is desirable to keep with 
the diskette a printout of its directory, 
i.e., the complete list of the files it con- 
tains. Generate this printout on the 
primer, then tape it to the envelope in 
which the diskette is kept. 

Whenever possible, name files in such a 
way that successive versions can be iden- 
tified. Start with LISTl, then call the se- 
cond version L1ST2, the third LIST.^, etc. 

As long as you know what the latest ver- 
sion is, this works. 

Beware of situations where several files 
are updated on the same diskette. You may 
no longer know which file was changed 
when. In such a case, create a separate 
backup copy of each file that was changed, 
or else carefully list each file along with 
the date it was last modified. 

When a diskette is a master or a copy, 
identify it as such. Masters are normally 
kept in a separate location and handled 
with great care. Backup copies are also 
generally stored in a separate location. 

Dispose of obsolete copies after a 
reasonable period of time, or else: 

1 . You will quickly accumulate dozens of 
useless diskettes. 

2. You may encourage errors by keeping 
old versions around. 

Storins Diskettes 

Both physical and environmental fac- 
tors should be considered when storing 
diskettes. Diskettes can either be stored 
horizontally or vertically, but they should 
not be stored in such a way that they will 
sag, slump, or be compressed. They 
should be protected from adverse mag- 
netic or environmental conditions. Let us 
now examine the do's and don'ts for stor- 
ing diskettes. 

DON'T Let Them Lie Around 

When not in use, a diskette should be 
stored in a protective envelope and pre- 
ferably filedaway. Leaving a diskette lying 
flat and unprotected on the top of your 
computer is an open invitation to disaster. 
Dust will accumulate on the diskette. 
Usually, no immediate effect will occur as 
the dust particles will be captured by the 
inner lining of the diskette. However, 
once more dust has accumulated, or 
pressure is applied to the lining of the disk 
jacket, one or more specks of dust will 
scratch the disk surface and damage data. 
Later on, when the data is used, because it 
is damaged, it will cause erratic system 
behavior and there will be no easy explan- 
ation for this behavior. Again, this is the 
time bomb effect. 

DO Sleru Tb«m Prepurly 

When stored, diskettes should not be 
bent or stressed in any way. They may be 
placed in a box as long as there are no 
physical obstructions inside the box that 
might exert pressure on them. Don't over- 
crowd diskettes in a single container. 

When storing diskettes horizontally, 

don't stack more than 10 diskettes on top 
of each other. Diskettes should not be 

Diskettes may also be stored in vertical 
plastic holders. The advantage of plastic 
holders compared to metal ones is the 
guarantee that plastic holders are not or 
will not become magnetized. Such holders 
range in style from rotating diskette 
holders to plastic boxes and vertical rack 

Using plastic will help prevent a mag- 
netized metal element from coming in 
close proximity to the diskette, but it will 
not eliminate the danger altogether. In 
other words, a diskette lying in a plastic 
fde holder may be wiped out if a magnetic 
coil or a magnetized screwdriver is placed 
near it. Therefore, the file holders them- 
selves should be located away from 
sources of electromagnetic interference. 

Hanging file holders may be placed in 
metal cabinets. Metal cabinets will, to 
some extent, shield the contents of a 
diskette from electromagnetic radiation. 
Naturally, this is true only if the metal 
cabinet is not magnetized. 


Diskettes must be used in a proper en- 
vironment. Here are the main enemies of 
your diskette: 

• temperature extremes 

• dust 

• liquids and vapors 

• electromagnetic interference 

Let us examine each of these constraints in 


Diskettes should be kept away from 
direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. 
Typically, diskettes will operate only be- 
tween 10° and 50° Celsius (50° to 122° 
Fahrenheit). They will accept a relative 
humidity of 10 % to 80 % . If a diskette has 
been exposed to a temperature below 5°C 
or over 50°C (41 ° or 122 °F), it should be 
presumed damaged, and discarded. 

Special high-performance diskettes can 
withstand higher operating and storage 
temperatures. They may operate from 10° 
to 70°C(50° to 158 °F) and may be stored 
at temperatures ranging from - 40° to 
70°C(-40° to 158°F). 

Don't use a diskette that has just been 
brought in from outside the building if 
there is a singificant difference between 
the indoor and the outdoor temperatures. 
Allow a period of 24 hours for the temper- 

ature of (he diskette to equalize with the 
temperature of the computer room. 


Dust is one of the greatest enemies of 
diskettes. Dust may be due to an unclean 
environment or to more subtle causes 
such as heavy smoking, machinery (for 
example, drills used in dentistry), or 
specks of paper from a high speed printer. 
All sources of dust should he removed 
from the vicinity of disk drives. 

Smoke in the air will also deposit parti- 
cles on the surface of a diskette. This will 
cause the head to scratch the disk surface, 
thereby damaging the diskette. 


Liquids will damage the surface of a 
diskette. Don't use or even keep a diskette 
that has come in contact with a liquid. Dis- 
card it; it is unusable even after the liquid 
has dried. The residue will contaminate 
the diskette. The best precaution is to ban 
all liquids from the computer room. 
Whenever this is not practical, care should 
be taken not to spill liquids on diskettes or 
on diskette jackets or envelopes. 


Avoid placing solvents close to disk- 
ettes as chemical fumes may affect the 
magnetic coating of a diskette. Dangerous 
fumes encountered in office environments 
include fluids for duplicating machines, 
nail polish, and some adhesives. 
Electrical and EIcctromasnctic 

Electromagnetic interference (EMI) Is the 
name given to electromagnetic radiations 
that interfere with recorded data. Data can 
be destroyed or even wiped out entirely if a 
strong electromagnetic field or electrostatic 
field is applied to a diskette. Strong elec- 
tromagnetic radiations are emitted by 
transformers and coils. A diskette should 
never be placed in close proximity to a mag- 
netic coil (such as those used in telephones) 
ora degaussing coil (such as those around a 
color television tube). 

Remember: don’t put your telephone on 
top of a diskette, a box of diskettes, or even 
the disk drive. If the telephone rings while 
on top of a diskette or disk drive, it will 
wipe out any diskettes underneath it. (If 
you have any doubts, try it on an old disk- 
ette). Keep the telephone cord short 
enough so that the telephone can never he 
inadvertently placed on top of disk drives 
ora work table where diskettes might be ly- 

Any metal object should be suspected of 
being magnetized. In particular, screw- 
drivers and paper clips tend to become 
magnetized over a period of time. A 
magnetized screwdriver placed in close 
proximity to a diskette can damage the 

data. Similarly, car keys and other metal- 
lic objects may become sufficiently magne- 
tized to affect a diskette. Always store 
diskettes in a proper container away from 
electromagnetic radiation. 

Diskettes must also be protected from 
static. In a dry environment, static elec- 
tricity can build up. In particular, if a com- 
puter room is equipped with wool carpet- 
ing. it is possible for up to 15,000 volts of 
static electricity to build up in the body 
simply by walking on the carpeting. If a 
finger is pointed at the computer or a 
diskette, an electrostatic discharge may 
occur and a spark will travel between the 
tip of the finger and the computer or 
diskette. A spark may also occur if you 
walk across the room and touch a metal 
part while holding a diskette. Such a spark 
is guaranteed to wipe out some of the con- 
tents of any diskette, as well as disrupt 
operation of the computer. To avoid this 
problem, you can use anti static mats and 
sprays. Whenever the danger of static 
electricity exists (for example, on a dry 
day), either be careful not to point a finger 
at the diskettes, or be sure to ground 
yourself carefully before doing so. You 
can ground yourself by touching a metallic 
object connected to the frame of the build- 
ing or by touching a neutral ground. 

Transporting Diskettes 

Mailing Diskettes 

Diskettes are often mailed. When mail- 
ing a diskette, use (he best possible 
packaging that will guarantee the physical 
integrity of the diskette. Use rigid inserts 
in the envelope. If you use cardboard, 
make sure it is the corrugated kind. Place a 
sheet of it on both sides of (he diskette, 
with the ridges of one sheet perpendicular 
to the ridges of the other. Don't use or- 
dinary cardboard, such as the back of a 
paper pad. It is not stiff enough and will 
bend, which may destroy data on the 
diskette. Whenever possible, place the 
diskettes inside the package, '/< " to '/r " 
away from the flat side. Distance is an ex- 
cellent protection against pressure and 
magnetic objects. 

Traveling with Floppies 

Airport X-ray machines will not harm a 
floppy. However, the coils of the 
machinery surrounding them are 
dangerous. It is best to keep diskettes 
away from these machines. 

DON'T continued. . . 



Two types of preventive maintenance 
action are recommended in order to safe- 
guard your diskettes: 

1. Keep your disk drive within the 

prescribed settings. 

2. Use defensive procedures to maintain 

the integrity of your data. 

Let us examine these two maintenance 
procedures in detail. 

Mainlainins The Drive 

Disk drives must be correctly calibrated 
and aligned, i.e., the drive must be cali- 
brated to the proper tolerance and the 
heads must be properly aligned. This is 
best accomplished by a specialist but can 
be done by a dedicated tinkerer. Special 
alignment disks are available from the 
manufacturer to facilitate this process. 
Typically, a drive will stay aligned for a 
year or more. 

The disk drive heads should be cleaned 
regularly to eliminate dust. The frequency 
of cleaning depends on the environment 
in which the disks operate and the disci- 
pline of the users. As a rule of thumb, disk 
drive heads should be cleaned at least 
once a year. Special head-cleaning kits are 
available for this task. Preferably, sol- 
vents such as alcohol, freon or thinners 
should not be used. 

Let’s go through the steps involved in 
cleaning a read/write head using a kit. 

Step 1 : Saturate the cleaning fabric on 
the special diskette with the cleaning solu- 
tion as shown in above. 

Step 2: Insert the diskette into the 

Step 5: After .W to 50 seconds remove 
the diskette and make a note on the disk- 
ette that it has been used. Typically, each 
diskette may be used up to 15 times. 

When double-sided diskettes are used, 
an extra opening may be found on the 
back of the cleaning diskette than can be 
helpful when cleaning the opposite side of 
the head mechanism. 

Half of the diskette contains a special 
cleaning fabric and the other half contains 
a regular dry fabric that wipes off the 
read/write head. 

Depending on how frequently the disk- 
ettes are used, and the cleanliness of the 
environment, cleaning can take place 
every few weeks or months. Anti-contam- 
ination techniques, such as cleaning, nor- 
mally have two main positive effects: 

1. The read/write heads are kept 

contamination free. 

2. Operators are reminded of the risk 
posed by dust and other particles to 
their equipment and will generally be- 
come more cautious. 

A typical list of disk contaminants in- 
cludes: dust, other particles, hair, skin 
flakes, fingerprint oil. and smoke film. 

Dual-sided diskettes are much more 
susceptible to dust than single-sided disk- 
ettes. With a single-sided diskette, the cer- 
amic read/write head presses on one side 
of the diskette while a soft felt backing 
presses on the other side. Compression of 
the diskette material is minimal. In the 
case of a dual-sided diskette, two ceramic 
read/write heads are applied to the disk- 
ette simultaneously, one on each side. 

Don't attempt to clean the diskette sur- 
face itself. Any contact with the disk sur- 
face will contaminate it. 

Remember also that disk drives are sen- 
sitive mechanical devices. When moving a 
disk drive, be careful to avoid shocks and 
vibrations. Such physical disturbances 
might misalign the head. 

Physical damage to a diskette is inflicted 
either by the drive or the operator. Disk- 
ettes should be frequently inspected for 
signs of wear or damage. If there is visible 
wear or damage on the disk surface, the 
disk should be presumed bad and should 
no longer be used. A backup should be 
used instead and the suspected disk should 
be discarded. Remember, the appearance 
of large shiny rings may indicate a me- 
chanical problem with the disk drive. 

Most diskettes become damaged before 
they ft ear out. Hoft ever, in circumstances 
w here diskettes are valuable and are fre- 
quently used, center rings are available 
and can be used to reinforce the spindle 
holes of diskettes. 

Disk Failures 

Diskette failures will seldom occur if 
proper handling procedures have been 
followed. If a diskette has been handled 
properly, and a disk drive failure occurs, 
improper calibration or alignment should 
be suspected. 

Let us examine disk errors and possible 

Disk Errors 

Disk errors are due to the accidental 
change of the value of one or more bits of 
information at its surface. Such errors are 
traditionally classified in three main cate- 

I Drop-Outs. In this case, bits are wiped 

out either beacuse of a defect on the 
disk surface or because of an inade- 
quate write signal generated by the 
read/write head. Both cases are gener- 
ally attributable to contamination or to 
physical damage to the diskette. 

2. Drop-Ins. In this case, spurious bits are 
written in locations where they should 
not be. This is generally due to elec- 
tromagnetic interference where a 
strong magnetic field creates spurious 
information on the surface of the disk. 
This can also be due to disk drive mal- 
function or to erroneous software that 
writes information in a place it is not 
supposed to. 

.5. Bit Shifts. This problem refers to the 
physical shifting of bits of information 
at the surface of the disk. Such shifting 
results in timing errors that may make 
the data unreadable. This type of pro- 
blem is generally caused by electromag- 
netic interference, but it may also be 
caused by physical distortion or high 

.Most disk errors are detected during the 
reading process. This happens because the 
data that was stored on the disk has been 
damaged ("polluted"). Usually, the data 
contained in the affected file on the disk 
has been lost. In any case, the contents of 
the entire disk should now be suspected, 
and the polluted diskette should be re- 
placed by the backup. 

However, if a failure occurs while wri- 
ting. three causes should be suspected be- 
fore accusing the equipment: 

1. The write-protect tab may not be pro- 
perly positioned over the notch (or re- 
moved from it. in the case of a mini- 

2. There may be a software protection 
feature in the operating system that 
prevents unauthorized writing on a 
given file. 

.5. You may be using the wrong type of 
diskette for the disk drive. In par- 
ticular, a hard sectored disk wiil not 
work with a soft sectored disk drive. 

Floppy Disk Summary 

Floppy disk failures are the most com- 
mon cause of failures for small computers. 
Proper diskette handling requires respect 
for the physical and magnetic integrity of 
the diskette. As long as proper handling 
precautions and proper operating proce- 
dures. including a thorough backup pro- 
cedure, are followed, diskettes will oper- 
ate reliably for long periods of time. 

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50-19,200,— hard- 
ware/software selec- 

• RS-232, Cen- 
tronics Parallel, 

IEEE ports. Current 

• Switch selectable protocols: 
NEC 3510, Diablo 630, Qume 
Sprint 9. 

• 24 switch selectable func- 

• Auto-bidirectional printing 
with optimized throughput. 

• Sheetfeeder and 
graphics modes. 

• Auto proportional 
spacing and tab 

able to latest 

• Complete word pro- 
cessing features, standard. 

• Supports optional front 



Sellum N-35 

Sellum N-77 

Sellum F-86 


33 cps 

55 cps 

80 cps 

Shannon Test 

28 cps 

48 cps 

72 cps 

Print Wheels 

128 char. 

128 char. 

127 char, plastic 
96 char, metal 

Noise Level 

60 db 

60 db 

60 db 






Sellum Series Printers also 
available for most microcomputers. 
Sold only through dealers 
and systems integrators. 

Extended 1 80 day warranty auailabte. 

465 Fairchild Dr., #214 
Mountain View, CA 94043 
(415) 964-5460 

PC Directory 




Offering; \Alue added management needs 
analysis. Systems analysis/Custom pro- 
gramming, Computer software and hard- 
ware selection assistance mini/ 
micro/mainframe. "Computers don't save 
$. they make it. " 

2083 Landittgs Drive, Mountain View. CA 
94043 (415) 961-0234. 

worried atwut making your IBM F^rsonal 
Computer really personal? The Program- 
ming Sf>op recognizes that you have 
unique business application requirements 
Our consultation and programming ser- 
vices are available to support : Networking. 
Distributed processing. Accounting. 
Structured application development, for 
more information, give us a call today. 
1164 Umbarger Road. San Jose. CA 
95121 (408) 226-2157. 

Professional Consulting Services for your 
Personal Computer. Custom designed 
business at^iications. System design and 
implementation Telecommunications con- 
sultant and training. 

Avenue ftio Alto CA 94301 
(415) 327-4716. 


Steiner Consufling, Inc. 

Over 20 years DP industry experience 
Management Consulting, Project Manage- 
ment. Systems Design, and Programming. 
For a copy of "Checklist of Faints tor First 
Time Computer Purchasers to Consider 
and Evaluate send Si and a self- 
addressed. stamped business envelope to 
Dept PCCK. 2596 DeFoors Ferry Road NW. 
AtlanU. 6A 30317 (404) 351-5122. 


Independent computer consultant pro- 
viding custom programming for IBM Per- 
sonal Computer. Apple. Zenith and IBM 
mainframes (CICS) IBM ^rsonal Compu- 
ter available lor in-house demonstration 
and training 

37 Parktr Street, Newton Centre, MA 
02159 (617) 969-5163. 


Vferren P. Henry, CDP 
Established professional with quality 
references. Custom programming and 
packaged software ranging from thorough- 
bred handicapping to manufacturing in- 
ventory control. 

250 Richards Road. Room 245, Kansas 
City. MO 64116 (816) 471-6660. 



Consulting services tor small businesses. 
Including Micro-Computer selection, soft- 
ware recommendations, feasibility 
studies, custom software design, and 
programming. IBM PC available for demos 
in 1st quarter "82 

WMiam Latandrs. Wayna, Naw Jarsay 
07474 (201) 694-8622. 



Need Help? we'll take on your project with 
our new PC, our 14 years of experience on 
IBM computers, and our backgrounds in 
scientific, statistical and systems 

Clint Davis and Marilyn Davis. Ph.O. 

Box 4982 SanU Fa, NM 87502 
(505) 982-4049 



VW are ready to distribute your software to 
our already existing customers and com- 
puter dealers. Send description of program 
with details. Evaluation copy preferred 

5151. San Jose. CA 95150. 


'll lakes more effort to make it simple ' 
7114 Hawthorn Avenue, Holfywood. CA 


PERFORMS. Order entry/poinl of sale. 
Purchasing with Reorder Point. Receiving. 
INCLUDES: 1000 Inventory items. 100 
Vendors. Listings and more. COST: $349 
Complete. REQUIRES: 1 disk. 48k and 
Printer. Dealer inquiries invited. 

Street, Coral Springe, FL 33065 
(305) 753-5893 


Announcing HAL9000 Senes, a new line of 
engineering, business and statistical soft- 
ware tor the new IBM Personal Computer 
Send for our brochure and price list 

KELLER SOFTWARE. 1825 Westcliff Drive, 
Newport Beach. CA 92660. 


Complete program development systems 
including interpreter/compiler with virtual 
memory management, custom screen 
editor, line editor, assembler, decompiler, 
and many utilities. Floating point math 
extensions, cross compilers, and other 
options also available. 

Beethoven Street, Los Angeles. CA 90066 
(213) 390-9292. 


Full screen text editor for IBM l^rsonal 
Computer Write for information. 

Corel Springs, FL 33065. 


If you have produas or services to offer owners of the new IBM Per- 
sonal Computer, the PC Directories provide an economical, rifle-shot 
way to reach your prospects. 

Senice and software listings are classifled according to t>pe. Con- 
sultants and retailers are classifled geographically, with subgroups by 
specially where warranted. All listings appear in a standard format, 
typeset by PC from the information you provide, and are published 
in the first available issue after receipt. 

• (XtSSl-LTASTS: Individual name, company name, mailing ad- 
dress, phone and computer network numbers (one of each), and 
up to 35 words de^ribing your consulting credentials and 

• RETAILERS: Store name, individual's name & title, mailing ad- 
dress. phone and computer network numbers (one of each), store 
hours, and up to 35 words describing your products and ser\'ices. 

• SERVICES: Service type, company name, mailing address, phone 
and computer network numbers (one of each), and up to 35 
words describing your senice. 

• SOFTWARE: Product name, author name, company name, mail- 
ing address, phone and computer network numbers (one of each), 
and up to 35 words describing your product. 

RATES: listings described above are 150 each; additional words of 
description section are $10 for each 15 words or fraction. Charges 
are payable in advance. For listings in three or more consecutive 
issues, paid in advance. 15% discount. 

ORDERING: Use our convenient tear-out order card, or mail your 
listing information with payment \oK Directory, 1239 21si Avenue. 
San Francisco. California ^122. 


Available for the IBM f^rsonal Computer. 
Software designed to be user friendly. 
Features include: Monthly financial plann- 
ing, Balance sheets in minutes. Profit and 
Loss siatement at your fingertips. 
Documentation written in English, and 
much much more. Write today and find out 
can help save you time and nxmey 
ger Road. San Jose. CA 95121. 


Fast, easy to use word processing software 
written specifically for the PC and for sim- 
plicity of use Useful for correspondence, 
manuscripts, proposals, legal documents, 
creative and journalistic writing. Also use- 
ful as fast, flexible full-screen line editor for 
program development. Fully compatible 
With all DOS utilities and programs. Faster 
and Simpler than EASYWRITER and EDLIN 
Features include rapid text editing, help 
menus, function keys, abbreviations, 
automatic centering, alignment, justifying 
and paging, block move and copy, global 
search and replace Requires DOS. 64K. 
and any PC compatible printer. 

Special introductory offer: $125 30-day 
money back guarantee. Demonstration 
diskette $15. applicable to purchase. 
Available March. 

Street, Suite 342, Monterey, CA 93940 



215 Wbst Valler Avenue. 
Birmingham, AL 35209 
Source Number CL0034 
Store Hours: 

Monday-Friday t0am-6pm 
Saturday l0am-4 pm 


5035 Almaden Expressway 
San Jose. CA 95118 
(408) 267-2182 


10 00 to 7:00 Weekdays 
10 00 to 6:00 Saturday 
Specializing in service and support to the 
IBM South San Jose facility employees. 
Hard disks, add-on memory, software and 
peripherals in stock. Call lor information 
regarding IBM Personal Computer training 



Your word processed manuals or books are 
loaded directly into our typesetter 
Elimirtate rekeying. You need telecom- 
munications option We can design and 
offer complete printing facilities. Suitable 
for documents over 300 pages 
650 Second Street. Sen Francisco. CA 
94107 (415) 397-2400. 

and get your PC 
at the 

Win an 

IBM* Personal 
From PC... 

PC Magazine provides all the important inside infor- 
mation you’ll need to make the best possible use of 
your IBM “PC”. Product reviews, applications, arti- 
cles, commentaries from other users and interviews 
with people who are at the center of the industry — 
all available in the pages of PC, and all designed to 
help you evaluate, expand and apply the IBM Per- 
sonal Computer to your needs. Timely, readable, and 
accurate information — that’s what you get as a PC 
subscriber — and it’s not available anywhere else. 

the PC “PC” 

The easiest way in the 
world to get an IBM Per- 
sonal Computer? — win our 
“PC” drawing on March 1, 

1982. The prize includes a system 
unit (I6k) with keyboard and 
color/graphics monitor adaptor. 

You don’t have to subscribe to PC to win 
our drawing. All you have to do is fill out 
the attached card and send it in before 
March 1 . Complete drawing rules are outlined 

Giveaway Rules 

Mail entries postpaid to PC Magazine at 1239 21st Avenue, San 
Francisco 94122. Entries must be postmarked before midnight, 
March 1 , 1982. Drawing will be held and the winner notified by 
April 1, 1982. Prize delivery date will be subject to IBM product 

Entries must be on an official entry form or its exact copy. You 
may enter as often as you like, but each entry must be mailed in 
a separate envelope. 

Employees of Software CommunicaUons, Inc, its affiliates, 
dealers, distributors, advertising agencies and media are not 
eligible to win. This offer is void where prohibited, taxed or 
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Subscribing is the 
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the single 
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whether or not you win 
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Don't delay, use one of the attached cards to 
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Product Report 


Expand your PC’s memory to 856K with 1 slot for $1,095. 

Jeremy Jean Hewes 

California has begun production of their 
model 4192 Memory Expansion Module, 
which provides 196,608 characters 
(I92K) of read-write memory (RAM) for 
the IBM Personal Computer. When 
installed, this added memory brings the 
computer to its announced capacity of 
256K. The board is designed specifically 
for use in the PC and can be installed in 
any available expansion slot except that 
used for the disk controller. The manufac- 
turer says PC owners can purchase the 
new product at ComputerLand stores for 
1 1,095. 

One advantage of this single-board 
memory unit. Intermedia says, is that it 
has economical space and power require- 
ments for the PC. It makes relatively little 
demand on the computer's power supply, 
and users get the memory equivalent of 
three 64K expansion boards in one slot. 
Considering that there are only five such 
slots in the PC, this concentration of 
memory could be highly beneficial to 
anyone who wants to take full advantage 
of the options available for the computer. 

For example, one of the slots is occu- 
pied by a disk controller (unless the PC 
uses a cassette only, an unlikely possibili- 
ty); a second is used by the board that con- 
trols both the printer and the mono- 
chrome display ; if a color monitor is used, 
the printer and color monitor require sep- 
arate boards, filling separate slots; tbe 
communications card occupies one slot; 
and a game paddle takes up one more slot. 
Thus, with any assortment of options, the 
PC could not accommodate three individ- 
ual 64K memory expansions to bring it to 
the 256K potential without an auxiliary 
chassis as well. 

The price comparison of three 64K 
boards or one I92K unit is likewise 
favorable. The cost of three IBM expan- 
sion boards with 64K each totals SI, 620; 
at 11,095, the single memory expansion 
board costs 32 percent less. These prices 
are also indicative of how rapidly this 
technology and its costs have changed: lit- 
tle more than two years ago a 64K memory 
board sold for as much as S 1 ,000, and five 

years ago that much memory cost $1,500 
and occupied as much space as all the 
boards in the PC. 

At present, the software that can utilize 
this added memory is limited, but many of 
the major program publishers are reported 
to be adapting or developing software that 
will take advantage of the PC's larger 
memory capacity. One currently available 
product that is able to use more than the 
standard 64K in the computer is 
Microsoft's Pascal. The advanced disk 
BASIC sold with the computer also can 
utilize more than the 64K memory at pres- 
ent. In addition, IBM announced in early 
December that a Fortran compiler will be 
available in March and a macroassembler 
will be ready in February of this year; both 
are being developed by Microsoft and will 
be able to use the added memory. Personal 
Software has announced an upgrade of its 
VisiCalc program that will use up to 2I4K 
for a spreadsheet, and says it will provide 
the upgrade free to purchasers of the 
earlier version. 

Tom Kornei and Harry Kline, devel- 
opers of the Intermedia Systems board, 
emphasize the quality of their product and 
their solid experience in the electronics 
held. Both men have advanced engineer- 
ing degrees from the University of Califor- 

nia at Berkeley, both are former Hewlett- 
Packard employees, and their indepen- 
dent company has been in business for ten 
years. They design and manufacture a 
variety of electronics products, most of 
which are supplied to the Medical Elec- 
tronics Division of Hewlett-Packard. 

Their new product is simple to install 
and soundly made, and the firm offers a 
one-year warranty on the board. The unit 
is built with industry-standard 64K dy- 
namic RAM chips, has a stainless steel 
mounting bracket and a fiberglass "foot" 
for secure placement, and is supplied with 
the cardholder needed to hold it in place 
in the computer's cabinet. Special pack- 
aging was designed for shipping the 
board; it consists of a large wrapping of 
convoluted foam Inside a sturdy card- 
board box. Each board is tested by being 
“cooked" for ten hours at 50 degrees 
Centigrade before it is shipped to a dealer. 

Although other manufacturers have an- 
nounced their intention to market similar 
memory expansion boards. Intermedia 
Systems asserts it is the first to have such a 
product in distribution, New Products 
section for related announcements. 

Intermedia Systems. 10601 S. Saratoga-Sunnyvale 
Rd . Cupertino, California 9S0N. (408) 996-tmO. 


HARRY BLAKESLEE. Preside™, Denver Software 

UCSD p-System and UCSD Pascal are trademarks of the Regents of the University of California. 

O ur business is bigger and 
better than ever. 

A lot of the credit for that 
goes to the UCSD p-System software 
from SofTech Microsystems. It’s 
given us ten times the market we 
used to have. 

We can write a single, 
sophisticated applications program 
with the UCSD p-System— like our 
financial management package— and 
it just keeps on running. On i^ple. 
Commodore, Ohio Scientific, Texas 
Instruments, Zenith, IBM, and more. 
That’s the real beauty of the UCSD 
p-System. Any program you write for 
one microcomputer runs on others, 
both today and tomorrow. You protect 
your software investment, without 
restricting your hardware options. 

And with the UCSD 
p-System, you can use the language 
of your choice — UCSD Pascal,™ 
FORTRAN-77, BASIC, or assembly 
language. All are backed by SofTech 
Microsystems, a leading system 
software company who’s been around 
for over a decade, who knows how 
to develop professional quality 
software, and who’s committed to 
delivering it. 

Get a head start on tomor- 
row. With the microcomputer 
software that goes from “A” to “Z.” 
Distribution licensing and single 
copies available. Write or call for 
details, so you can start going 
places, too. 


n suasfomnv softecm 

For the software that’s going places. 

9494 Black Mountain Road, San Diego, 
CA 92126. (714)578-6105 
TWX: 910-335-1594 

Product Report 


Tax plannins models for spreadsheet prosrams. 

PC doesn't have any tips on reducing your 
share of the national debt, we do have 
news of something that will make rilling out 
the forms a lot less painful. 

That something is the Tax Planning 
Model, from Pansophics, Ltd. Designed to 
work on an IBM PC with either VisiCalc or 
SuperCalc, the Tax Planning Model is ac- 
tu^y four spread-sheet files, each of which 
contains a format for filling out one of the 
following tax forms: 

• Unmarried, single 1040 return 

• Unmarried, head-of-house 1040 return 

• Married, joint 1040 return 

• Married, separate 1040 return 

These models are included in the 'per- 
sonal package" and retail for $100. There is 
also a "professional” package selling for 
$150, which in addition to the above con- 
tains two additional files: 

* Corporation, 1120 return 

• Partnership, 1065 return 

The most apparent advantage of this 
method of figuring income tax is that all the 
calculations and lookups are performed 
automatically. If you want to know what 
your tax situation would be like if you had 
received that raise last October, you can 
easily enter a different number in the in- 
come earned column and press the ex- 
clamation key (!) for manual recalculate 
(VisiCalc version). Presto, like magic the 
numbers change before your very eyes. 
Ouch, it's a good thing you didn't get that 
raise after all. 

In testing the single 1040 return model, 
using bogus figures for income and deduc- 
tions, PC discovered that it only takes about 
10 minutes using these tax models to figure 
your taxes. And that's for a novice, non- 
CPA type person. With practice, we 
calculate that you could figure 80 to 100 
returns in a single day using the Tax Plan- 
ning Model. 

The best part is once you've filled in the 
numbers for your return, you can slip an 
actual 1040 form in your printer and then 
print it out. Every number will appear in 
the correct position on the form. 

The tax models have been geared to the 
1981 return so that the new combined divi- 
dend and interest deduction is figured in as 
well as I981's special 20% capital gains 
maximum tax. 

— David BunncU 

VisiCak Tax PUtmning Models: 

Pansofsbics. Ud.. Vbistlestop Mad. PO Box 59. Rixk 
port. -Massacbusetts 0/966. (6/7) 596-J/W. 


Personal computer 


★ CPA General Ledger ★ 

★ Balance-f=orward Accounts Receivable ★ 

★ Open^tem Account Receivable ★ 

★ Contractor Job Costing ★ 

★ Accounts Payable * 

★ Payroll ★ 

★ Cash How Statements * 

All programs run with IBM Personal DOS 
$485.00 Each 


P. 0. BOX 735 
Yakima, wa. 98907 
Call 1-509-5750320 




for IBM personal computer 

256K Bytes $995 

192K Bytes $850 
128K Bytes $695 

Field Expansion Kit 64K Bytes $175 

• Addressable to any 64K boundary 
•Board is disabled on unused blocks 

• Low power — Small size 

• install in any expansion slot 
•One year warranty 

• Available now 

Sigma Designs, Inc. 

P.O. Box 3765, 3866 Eastwood Cr. 
Santa Clara, CA 95051 
(800) 538-8157 ext 929 
(800) 672-3470 ext 929 (Calif, only) 

Increase Memory 4)C on thelBM^^X, 

Datamac Peripheral Products offer the 
perfect solutiort to the major limitation 
of the IBM Personal Computer ■ only a 
32K or 64K byte memory. The 
Datamac Memory Expansion Board - 
The First & the Only Available - contains 
4 TIMES the amount of memory offered 
by the IBM Personal Computer. The 
64K byte board is currently priced at 
about 20% below IBM’s suggested 
retail price. Configurations can be set 
at 64K, 128K, 192K and 256K bytes. 

Peripheral Products Division 
660 Almanor Avenue 
Sunnyvale. CA 94066 
(40B) 735-0323 

The Datamac Memory Expansion 
Board is AVAILABLE NOW lor 
immediate delivery. 

Call or write for more information - 
Dealer inquiries welcomed. 



Lcsal considerations when you buy a computer. 

Buyer thought he had purchased the top-of- 
the-line, state-of-the-art personal com- 
puting system just right for his business 
when he signed the written purchase con- 
tract. later, when the computer system 
failed and could not be repaired, despite 
repeated attempts, Buyer discovered that 
the promises and assurances of quality were 
meaningless. So Buyer sued the manufac- 
turer of the computer system to recover the 
purchase price, repair expenses, and lost 

THE RULING: Upon evaluating the con- 
tract Buyer had signed. the court ruled that 
all warranties had been excluded. 

THE RESULT: Buyer was left with a com- 
puter that did not work, ami he was re- 
quired to pay the full contract price for the 

our courts are unfair, unjust, or manufac- 
turer-oriented. Rather, the moral is that no 
buyer should enter into a contract for the 
lease or purchase of a computer system 
armed with only half of the requisite 
knowledge. Knowing computer technology 
and your particular requirements for its use 
is not enough. To avoid Buyer's predica- 
ment. it is essential to either learn the rele- 
vant principles of law or have a legal expert 
review the terms of the agreement before it 
is made flnal. 

This article will introduce you to the 
legal knowledge that could have saved 
Buyer from his cosdy mistake. The general 
principles of this law, the Uniform Com- 
mercial Code, apply in most states, but you 
would be wise to learn the specific rules of 
your state and to seek the advice of an at- 

T Stewart fj'ans. Jr. is a part- 
ler in the taw firm of Boothe. 
Prichard & Dudk)\ uith offices in Fairfax and Alexan- 
dria. Virginia His specitdty is commerciat litigation, 
and bis work includes amputer-related matters 

K. Stewart Evans, Jr. 

torney if you have any questions about a 
purchase agreement. 

Premises, Premises 

The primary legal obligations that arise 
between a buyer and a seller relating to the 
quality of the goods purchased are known 
as warranties. A warranty is a promise or 
assurance by the seller that the goods will 
conform to certain specifications regarding 
quality, performance, or durability. War- 
ranties fall into two main categories: ex- 
press warranties, which are assurances ac- 
tually made by the seller to the buyer; and 
implied warranties, which are created by 

warranty is created by the seller in any of 
three ways: (I) an affirmation of fact or 
promise; (2) any description of the goods; 
or (3) any sample or model that is made 
pan of the "basis of the bargain" (that is, 
the ingredients influencing the buyer’s 
decision to buy). The law does not require 
that sellers use formal words such as 
"warrant” or "guarantee," or that 
theyhave a specific intention to make a 
warranty. Therefore, advertisements, 
brochures, pamphlets, sales talk, and 
demonstrations used to “show off’ the 
features of a computer system may actual- 
ly amount to express warranties by the 

The seller’s affirmation of the value of 
goods or any opinion or commendation of 
the goods is not a warranty. For example, 
if the seller asserts that one computer is 
the ’’best computer ever made,” this 
statement is not an express warranty. 
Equally important, if the seller makes pro- 
mises after the buyer has decided to pur- 
chase the computer, these are not express 
warranties, because they are not a part of 
the basis of the bargain. 

IMPLIED WARRANTIES. Unless excluded 
or modified by a seller, a warranty of mer- 
chantability is implied in any agreement 
for the sale of computers between a buyer 
and a seller, as defined by the Uniform 
Commercial Code(UCC), which applies in 
all slates but Louisiana. To satisfy this war- 

ranty, the goods must at least pass without 
objection in the trade under the contract 
description and be fit for the ordinary pur- 
poses for which such goods are used. A 
refrigerator that will not cool, a heater 
that will not heal, or a computer that will 
not perform the storage, retrieval, and 
data processing functions computers or- 
dinarily perform are examples of goods 
that are not merchantable. 

Another type of implied warranty — of 
fitness for a particular purpose — may be 
created when a computer system is pur- 
chased. This warranty applies when the 
seller has reason to know the buyer’s par- 
ticular purpose in purchasing the com- 
puter; the buyer relies on the seller to 
select and furnish the right computer; and 
the seller is aware that the buyer is relying 
on his or her skill or judgment in the mat- 

When Is a Warranty Not a 

Considering the express warranties 
that can be created by every advertise- 
ment, promise, or assurance made by a 
seller, and the implied warranties created 
by law when a buyer purchases goods 
from a seller, how is it that our Mr. Buyer 
found himself with a computer that did 
not work and no 4egal remedy? Simple. 
Buyer voluntarily agreed to eliminate vir- 
tually every warranty and legal right to 
enforce those warranties which the law 
creates. How? When he purchased the 
computer system. Buyer signed a written 
contract that included the following lang- 

"Seller agrees to exchange any parts 
shown to have become defecthe from nor- 
mal wear and use during the first six 
months from date of delivery. Purchaser 
expressly waives all damages, whether 
direct, incidental or consequential. There 
are no understandings, agreements, rep- 
resentations or warranties, express or im- 
plied (including any regarding merchant- 
ability or fitness for a particular purpose) 
not specified herein, respecting this con- 
tract or the equipment hereunder. This 


Illustration by Linda Nacc 

contract states the entire obligation of 
seller in connection with this trans- 
action. ” 

Buyer ran into a trio of weapons that 
sellers of goods use to protect themselves 
from the legal obligations that arise from 
warranties: disclaimers of warranties; 
limitation of damages: and limitation of 
remedies. If you encounter anything re- 
sembling this language in a purchase 
agreement, do not sign it; take the docu- 
ment to a lawyer and have him or her sup- 
ply alternative wording that protects you. 

DISCLAIMERS. The function of a dis- 
claimer is to limit or exclude standards of 
quality, performance, and durability from 
a contract or agreement. While the effec- 
tiveness of a disclaimer can be a difficult 
legal question, all purchasers of com- 
puters should be extremely wary of any 
such provisions. To disclaim or exclude 
the implied warranty of merchantability, 
language which uses the term “merchan- 
tability" is required, and, in the case of a 
written contract, that language must be 
conspicuous. A disclaimer or limitation of 
implied warranties of fitness must be in 
writing and conspicuous. But expressions 
such as “ as is" or “ with all faults' ’ are ef- 
fective to exclude implied warranties of 
merchantability and of fitness for a par- 
ticular purpose. 

available under the UCC for breach of war- 
ranty may be limited by agreement be- 
tween the buyer and seller. The following 
example of a limitation of remedies clause 
limits the buyer to receiving replacements 
for defective equipment: “Damaged or 
defective equipment will be replaced with- 
out cost by the seller. Except for such re- 

placement, buyer receives no other war- 
ranty." Using similar clauses, the seller 
can limit his or her legal obligation to the 
buyer. It is not clear whether current law 
prohibits the limitation of remedies when 
a written warranty is given for consumer 

does not prohibit limitations of damages in 
consumer product contracts. Therefore, 
language such as “Seller is not liable for 
any damage to business, property or repu- 
tation resulting from any defect or mal- 
function in the computer equipment" is 
an acceptable method for the seller to limit 
his or her liability. With this clause in a 
contract, the seller would not be liable for 
damage such as property damage resulting 
from an electrical short, loss of data, or 
delay in turning out projects, bills, or 
other information. Language that attempts 
to limit the seller’s liability for personal 
injury resulting from a defect in the goods 
is generally disfavored by the courts, 

The Moral Revisited 

If your computer fails and the warran- 
ties arising out of its purchase have not 
been disclaimed, do not think that you can 
automatically recover damages. There 
may be other factual and legal hurdles to 
overcome. But knowing what you have 
agreed to and understanding the legal 
obligations of that agreement are neces- 
sary first steps. There is no substitute for 
reading and understanding all of the pro- 
visions of any agreement you sign. Your 
failure to do so can result in the loss of im- 
portant legal remedies available to you. 

In 14 accelerated steps, 
WordStar’" Made Ea^' lets you 
build word processing skills which 
are applicable to any business 
office. Legal documents, sales 
reports, business letters, manu- 
scripts— all can be generated 
quickly and easily without refer- 
ence to complicated manuals. 
•Applies to any version of 
WordStar,™ including version 3.0. 

An appendix listing CP/.M" 
commands and a detachable 
WordStar'" Command Sheet 
are featured for handy refer- 
ence. Spiral bound paper, 

125 pages. $7.95. 

630 Bancroft Way, 
Berkeley, CA 94710 

Call Toll Free: 800-227-2895 Wif/M 
in California (415) 548-2805 

Uept.4 ITDll 

□ WordStar Made Easy $7.95 




Plus: □ . 75/item 4th class □ $1. 50/ 
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or charge my □ Visa □ Maslercharge 

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Expiration Date 

Authorized Signature 

Tm Aa 

The Land of Altair 

Imagine a Land where computers are in the bands of 
the people. Creathe people from farmers to merchants to 
engineers to housewives to dentists to poets. 
Imagine a Land where the computer is in harmony with 
man with nature with hope with peace. 

Imagine a Land where computer power is affordable and 
accessible ami understandable to almost everyone. 

You are imagining the Land of Altair. 

The Land of Altair is rum 

first appeared in the September 1975 issue 
of Scientific American as part of a 2-page 
advertisement announcing the world 's first 
personal computer, the Altair 8800. 

The Altair and its bistory is in most 
respects synonymous uitb the early bistory 
of personal emitting. Mils, the little com- 
pany in Albuquerque. New Mexico, wbicb 
proclaimed to Scientific American readers 
that they bad invented a product wbicb was 
going to change the world bistory for all 

time, went through a dizzy success cycle and 
then sputtered to an ignominious non- 

Along the tvay, folks at Mils created or 
inspired virtually every component of the 
personal computer market (see following 
page). David Bunnell, Ibe publisher of fC,, 
was Ibe Vice Presiden! of Advertising at 
Mils, and Eddie Currie was the Chief Ex- 
ecutive Vice President. Together in this series 
they tell the story o/The Age of Aitair. 

David Bunnell and Eddie Currie 

been in a continual dynamic state since its 
beginning in 1975 with the introduction of 
the Altair microcomputer. 

The Altair was a neatly designed “ex- 
pandable” computer in a sky blue metal 
box with rows of flashing red lights. 
Interestingly enough, the Altair, which 
was the first commercially available com- 
puter to be designed with a single micro- 
processor chip for its brains or "CPU,” 
didn't come from California's Silicon Val- 
ley — spawning ground of micro chip com- 
panies — or Boston's Route 128 — where 
“minicomputers” were born. Instead, it 
came from Albuquerque, an unlikely 
desert town known mostly for its tur- 
quoise jewelry and Mexican restaurants. 

Though not many realize it, almost 
every aspect of the personal computer in- 
dustry had its beginning with this single 
development. This included the first com- 
puter to ever be offered in kit form, the 
first personal computer BASIC and other 
high level languages, the first personal 
computer retail stores, the first personal 
computer convention, the first personal 
computer publication, and the first soft- 
ware publisher for micros. 

In 1975 more Altairs were sold than any 
other single model of computer as it took 
its place in history as the first of the so- 
called “affordable computers" 

Yet, the Altair Age began quietly with 
few of its participants realizing that it 
would spawn several hundred new com- 
panies. nearly a hundred publications, a 
dealer network of thousands, and an in- 
stalled base of literally hundreds of 
thousands of personal computers through- 
out the world, and employment for 

How could one have guessed that the 
Altair computer and its knockoffs known 
as “SIOO Bus” machines would be proved 
capable of compiling virtually every lan- 
guage available for computers of any type, 
playing games, music composition and 
production, splendid graphics, teaching 
its owner a wide variety of skills, linking 
up with other micros around the world via 
the ordinary telephone line, speech recog- 
nition and speech simulation — not to 
mention myriad other activities. 


The Qui^ Revolution 

The Altair Age was the creation of one 
man, Ed Roberts, a former Air Force engi- 
neer stationed in Albuquerque who upon 
leaving the service started his own elec- 
tronic development company — which he 
first called M.I.T.S, for Micro Instrumenta- 
tion and Telemetry Systems. Upon incor- 
porating a year later he shortened it to 
Mits, Inc. 

Though Roberts began his company by 
designing a hobbyist model rocket, he 
soon moved into scientific test equipment 
and then into both pocket and desktop 
electronic calculators. 

Roberts designed the Altair with 16 card 
slots (the PC has 5) and, as IBM has done, 
he designed the plug-in structure to be 
easily accessible to third party vendors 
and computer hobbyists. 

Roberts’ goal was to provide a “real 
computer” to the masses much in the 
spirit of Henry Ford. This computer was 
basic and minimal. But it was made from 
standard multiple source components and 
it used the spiffy new 8-bit Intel chip, the 
8080. Costing under S400 in its minimal 
configuration of 2 56 chamsters of memory 
(and that’s not "K”) — the Altair was a 
real computer. It was infinitely expand- 
able and best of it, it worked. 

The Altair story has many twists and 
turns. Each time this revolution has 

appeared to stabilize, another new devel- 
opment has sent it hurtling forward again; 
whether it's the introduction of the Z80 or 
the 8086 or the 68000, or the advent of 
the mini-Winchester, the momentum is 
continuing to build. 

Just as we began to suspect that there is 
a clear view of the future at hand, perhaps 
the most significant event of the decade 

IBM enters the market with the IBM Per- 
sonal Computer. This machine, with its 
powerful 8088 microprocessor, with 
enough internal memory to contain an 
entire floppy, clearly marks the beginning 
of a new era. 

From our perspective, a tremendously 
significant event has once again begun 
without much fanfare and with relatively 
little attention from the media. 

As significant as the Apple and Radio 
Shack computers have been in proving 
that there is indeed a big market out there 
for micros, the IBM ranks right up 
there — with the Altair. The reason is that 
as IBM PC sales mount up into hundreds of 
thousands, and then millions. IB.M will 
polish up the personal computing market 
that the Mits Altair originally created. 



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product ought to be designed attractively. 
It ought to be easy to use, to put the reader 
at ease and eUminate some of the anxiety 
attendant upon teaming something new. 
Certainly it should provide a useful index 
and offer some gentle introduction (such 
as a glossary) to all the new terms and con- 
cepts it contains. Unfortunately, the 
manual that MicroPro suppties with its 
WordStar word processing program has 
none of these attributes. The WordStar 
manuai is loaded with information about 
the compiex and varied features of this 
program, but it does not offer an easy way 

WordStar is currently being adapted for 
use on the IBM Personal Computer, and 
this powerfui program wili add a welcome 
dimension to word processing for PC 
users. Even more welcome, though, is the 
new book WordStar Made Easy, by Walter 
Ettlin, published this month by Osborne/ 
McGraw-Hill. WME is not the last word in 
documentation, but is a quantum 
improvement over the MicroPro manual, 
which can quickly overwhelm readers 
with its dense format and type-crowded 

Unlike the MicroPro manual, Ettlin’s 
guide has an index, an eye-pleasing formal 
with ample white space on the pages, and 
an intelligent organization. The fourteen 
lessons in WME cover groups of reialed 
commands, and the paragraph or two 
devoted to each keystroke is headed in 
boidface type with that command. There- 
fore, a glance at any page in the book will 
quickly disclose which commands are 
covered on that page. 

Ettlin’s book is about half as long as the 
MicroPro manual for WordStar, and some 
information is sacrificed in achieving this 
more manageable length. The author quite 
rightly regards his work as an accompani- 
ment to the MicroPro manual, however, 
intending that WME be used routinely, 
with the longer manual for reference 
when necessary. As an aid to this two- 
book system, WME has page numbers in 
the margins that refer to locations in all 
versions of the MicroPro manual where 
related information may be found. 

There are deficiencies in WordStar 
Made Easy, however. The index is not 
very comprehensive, and it is not cross- 

referenced. This diminishes the utility of 
the index and at times can be misleading. 
For example, the author refers to the pro- 
cess of lining up the margin (usually on the 
right) so that every line ends at the same 
column, as “reforming,” He uses this 
term in the index but does not list any of 
the more common alternatives, such as 
“justification” or “ahgnment.” 

One solution to this problem would be 
to have a complete glossary, including 
every term that a beginning user might not 
know. It is difficult for an expert to im- 
agine what a novice knows or does not 
know . We become “experts” very quick- 
ly. in our own estimation, and soon forget 
that once we thought that a “menu” was 
nothing but a list of available dishes to eat 
and “prompt” was not a noun, but an ad- 
jective meaning on time. Yet every docu- 
ment that might be used by someone un- 
familiar with a given system, or with com- 
puters in general, ought to have a good 

Of course, none of this would matter if 
every user were content to follow WME 
slavishly, step by step, from beginning to 
end, and compose his or her own in- 
dex/glossary while going along. And here 
we come to the most fundamental 
criticism not only of WME, but of all docu- 
mentation of this sort that I have seen. It 
does not allow sufficiently for the w ay real 
people actually learn a new software 
package in the real world, which is by 
playing with it. Let me take my own advice 
and explain what I mean by “playing.” 

Upon first sitting down with a new soft- 
ware package. I find it impossible to 
follow a manual or tutorial very far 
without thinking of some operation that I 
just must learn how to perform right now. 
no matter that the manual does not get to 
it until page 106. I usually try to figure it 
out and sometimes succeed, especialiy 
with the use of a help menu, but I often 
fail. In the process, I always learn 
something about the system. 

When f m finished with such a digres- 
sion i return to the manual, taking up its 
instructional sequence where I left off I 
cannot learn any other way. and I believe 
that most people learn by this method; 
that is, by following their own curiosity. 
Curiosity is the only reliable educational 
motivation, and any manual that forces a 

student into a preconceived and inflexibie 
iearning sequence not only violates the 
student’s individuality, but forfeits the aid 
of curiosity, turning the student from an 
ally into an antagonist. 

A comprehensive glossary and a cross- 
referenced index are the two most impor- 
tant means of avoiding this mistake. Third 
most important is adopting a style that 
conveys the learner that he or she may in- 
dulge a freedom to “play.” Rather than 
say, as Ettlin does in several places, words 
to the effect that "we’ll cover this subject 
further in a iater chapter, ” he might bet- 
ter have said, “If you want to pursue this 
train of thought, feel free to go to chapter 
such and such right now, or see index ref- 
erences X, y and z. ” 

-Les Cowin 

WORDSTAR MADE EASY, by Walter Ettlin 
Osbome/McGrau-Hill. 124 pages. J7.95 

Second Opinions 

To me, the principal strength of 
WordStar .Made Easy is that it gives 
readers a series of projects with 
which to learn WordStar. There is no 
substitute for learning by doing, and 
Ettlin provides several different types 
of documents for users to learn w ith: 
simple paragraphs, form letters, 
pages with internal lists and special 
indentations, and even examples of 
charts and elementary graphics. 
When you've completed W .ME’s exer- 
cises and examples, you will have 
used most of the features and com- 
mands WordStar contains, and — 
more important — you will have 
some ideas about how to apply them 
in business situations. 

WordStar Made Easy is i great help 
to anyone who is exchanging a type- 
writer for a computer, and it cer- 
tainly makes mastery of W ordStar s 
varied components simpler than ei- 
ther the manual supplied by MicroPro 
or Les Cowan's preferred learn-by- 
experimentation method. Both ex- 
perimentation and the WordStar 
manual are essential pans of the full 
learning — it's just that Wal- 
ter Ettlin has made it easier for all of 
us to get started. 

—Jeremy Joen Hewes 





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Arithmetic Games 

IBM has announced (hree 
arithmetic programs in its Per- 
sonal Computer Education Series. 
They are Fact Track (S90). which 
assists students in learning basic 
arithmetic, Arithmetic Gantes. 
Set I and Set 2 (S60 each), which 
build mathematics and logic skills 
in game playing situations. Fact 
TYack measures master) of single- 
digit addition and multiplication in 
two ways— by correct answer and 
rate of response. All three pro- 
grams are by Science Research As- 
sociates. and are available now- 
through PC dealers. 

International Business Machines 
Corp., P.O. Box 1328, Boca Raton. 

In addition to the I92K memory 
expansion board now being pro- 
duced by Intermedia Systems (see 
related story in this Issue), two 
other California firms have an- 
nounced the availability of memo- 
ry boards with varying capacities. 
Datamac Computer Systems of 
Sunnyvale offers an expansion 
board that can be configured for 
(hK. I28K, I92K. and 256K bytes 
of memory, with parity. The price 
of Datamac's(>iK expansion unit is 
S-199. and the larger memory units 
are comparably priced; the board 
is available now. 

Datamac Computer Systems, 680 
Aimanor Ave., Sunnyvale. CA 
94066: (408) ‘^33-0323. 

A.S.T. Research, Inc., of Irvine 
also offers memory expansion 
hoards with capacities of ChK, 

FL 33432. 800/447-4~00: in lUi- 
nois, 800/332-4400. 

Typing Tutor 

A touch-typing instruction and 
drill program that creates individ- 
ualized typing drills has also been 
added to IB.M's Education Series. 
Typing Tutor (S25). from Micro- 
soft, Inc., automatically adjusts to 
the user's skill level each time it is 

IBM, (see above). 

Small Business Ac- 

General Accounting (S-t2S). a 
program package by BPI Systems. 
Inc., will be available in February 
for use by small businesses and 
professionals. Once the user 

I28K, 192K. and 25(>K in one unit, 
w ith full parity checking. The firm 
offers a one-year warranty on 
these boards, which are priced 
from S49S to SlS9v 
A.S.T. Research. Inc., 1*923 Sky 
Park Circle, Suite B. Irvine. CA 
92*14; C^I4) 590-1353. 

Communications and 
Development Modules 

Tw o hardw are products also of- 
fered by A.S.T. Research are a 
communications option card that 
contains two RS232 ports that can 
support asynchronous, bisynchro- 
nous. SDU^ and HDLC protocols, 
and a Wire-w rap/Extendercard set 
for PC users who are doing hard- 
ware development. 

A.S.T. Research, (see above). 

makes journal entries into the sys- 
tem. it can automatically post led- 
gers. prepare financial statements 
and close the user's btxiks. 

IB.M. (sec above). 

Languages Galore . . . 

IBM has also announced expan- 
sion of its Computer Language 
Series for the PC. First of the new 
produas w ill be Macro Assembler, 
to be ready in February, and FOR- 
TRAS C.ompiler coming in .March, 
both run under PC DOS and are by 
Microsoft. Inc. 

A later addition to the Series 
will be the VCSD p-System (S625 
with one language), an advanced 
operating system which functions 
with both I 'CSD Pascal ( J 1 7 5 sep- 
arately) and FORTRAS-77 (also 
SI 75). The p-System and associ- 
ated languages, both from SofTech 
Microsy. stems, will be released in 
April. Included with the p-System 
are a screen-oriented editor, a 
macro-assembler, and advanced 
"turtlegraphics" for graphic 

IBM, (see above). 

INSTOR Corporation has 
developed INSTOR/80I, a floppy- 
disk for the PC that uses (he IB.M 
Diskette I Basic Data Exchange for- 
mat. V; ith (his device and (he PC's 
Asynchronous Communications 
Adaptor, (he PC can read and w rite 
an 8>inch IBM 5*41 formal disk. 

BASIC Utilities 

A set of Utility programs for 
BASIC programmers, including 
subroutines for formatted input, 
matrix input and arithmetic, line 
drawing and file searching, has 
been released by Basic Business 
Software, of Las Vegas. Thefl4.V7C 
('unties disk (1*5) also contains a 
program for cross-referencing, 
and similar aids. 

Basic Business Software. 
Inc.— P.O. Box 26311. Las Vegas, 
NV 89126— *02/876-9493. 

“Common BASIC Pro- 
grams” etc. 

Adaptations for the IBM PC of 
the programs contained in the 
book Some Common Basic Pro- 
grams (Osborne/.McCraw -Hill) are 
being offered by Basic Business 
Software. The disk is S35. The 
same company is also offering PC 
programs for Plotting (S75 — it 
plots an array of data points to any 
printer. AnMrtizaUon & Deprecia- 
Uon {%}iQ)zxv3iFinanceCalculator 

Basic Busines,s Software, Inc., sec 

The 801 interfaces through the 
PCsserial(RS252)portand, using 
software provided with the pro- 
duct. can transmit data into the 
PC's memory (for subsequent 
w Tiling on PC disk) or receive data 
from the PC and w rite it on the 

continued next page. . 


Several Companies Announce Memory Boards 


8-inch Compatability for the PC 

5741 format disk. Thus, the IN- 
STOR 01 provides compatability 
between the PC and some 25 other 
computers that utilise IBM 3741 
format disks. This diNk exchange 
system Is priced at S2.000, in- 
cluding necessary software. 
INSTOR Corporation. 175 JefTer- 
9on Drive. Menlo Park. CA 94025; 


Typographic Printer 

The Model -OO typographic 
printer (S3i360) by Sanders Tech- 
nology can print draft copy at high 
speed, then print a rmal version in 
multiple typefaces that come close 
to typeset quality. Many mechan- 
ical parts are common with the 
Diablo 630 daisy- wheel primer, 
and the Model '00 1). due for 
March release, will b<‘ compatible 
with the Diablo 630's software 
control codes. Six different type 
styles or sizes can be installed in 
the printer, which also has plug-in 
slots for four additional draft/ 
finish sets (S125 each). The 
printer can be set by switches for 
all common computer interfaces. 
Sanders Technology Box 1226, 
Nashua, NH 03061. 

Chronograph for Date 
and Time 

The 'Stack” modem from 
Hayes Microcomputer Products. 
Inc. ofNorcross, Georgia now has 
a matching (.ompanKm — the Hayes 
Stack Chronograph a alendar/ 
lock that can be aitac hed to the PC 
through an RS232 port. In addition 
to providing accurate timekeep- 

ing, users may develop softw are to 
log programs and data according 
to time and date and to send in- 
structions to the computer to con- 
trol security devices such as lights, 
burglar alarms or sprinkler 

Hayes Microcomputer Products, 
Inc., 5835 PeachtreeComers East. 
Norcross. GA 39902; (404) 

Graphics Printer 

Centronics Data Computer Cor- 
poration has announced produc- 
tion of the Model 739 printer, 
which is capable of both graphics 
and conventional text printing. 
Text is produced in a 7x8 dot 
matrix at speeds of 100 characters 
per second (regular letter spacing) 
and 80 cps (proportional spacing.) 
Graphics are printed at a resolu- 
tion of 74 dots per inch by 72 dots 
per inch. The Centronics 759 can 
take sheet, fanfold or roll paper up 
to 9 inches wide (including pin 
feed), features a self-test, and 
comes in both parallel and serial 
models. This printer costs less 

than 31000. 

Centronics Data Computer Cor- 
poration, Hudson. New Hampshire 
03051; (603) 883-0111. 


Guide to Inventory 

Retailers who are using or are 
contemplating use of a computer 
for inventory' control will find 
welcome guidance in Ini'enlory 
Management for Small Compu- 
ters. by Chuck Atkinson, just pub- 
lished by dilithium Press. The au- 
thor owns a sailing business and 
wrote this book after designing his 
own inventory system. Atkinson's 
program, listed in the book, fea- 
tures records of stock on hand, 
prices, and automatic posting of 
items sold to the general inventory 
list as a sales receipt is printed. 
Inventory .Management for Small 
Computers, by Chuck Atkinson. 120 
pages. 112.95: Dilithium Press. 11000 

S.W. Ilih St.. Suite E. Beaverton, 0 
97005; (503) 646-2715. 

PC Overview 

A book titled IBM's Persona 
(^mputer (S 14.95) has been pub 
lished by Que O>rporation. Thi 
team-written book offers an over 
view of the microcomputer marke 
and where the PC fits into it, am 
analyzes its hardware and soft 
ware components on an item-by 
item basis. 

Que Corp., Indianapolis. IN 


Computer Swap 

The high tech flea market Hill be 
come a nationwide event in the com 
ing year, aa-oiding to John Craig, ori 
ginator of Computer Swap America 
Craig will take his swap meet, whicl 
has been based in the San Frandsa 
Bay Area, to southern California or 
-Sanirday, February 6th at the Orange 
County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. 
The event will retuin to northern 
California on April itth, at the Santa 
Clara County Faiigrounds in San Jose. 
The most recent swap meet, held in 
San Jose last October, drew more than 
5,000 people. 

Computer Swap America. P.O. Boa 
52, Palo Aho. CA 94302; (415) 

Also available: 

(A) 2-Port, RS 232; Capable 
HDLC Model: CC-232 $240 

(B) Wire-wrap Development Kit 
(w/w board & Extender) 

Model: WW-070 $95 

Available Sooii: 

64K-256K Error Correcting Memory 


Unit Price 

$ 495 


$ 995 


Model Capacity 

MP-064 64K-I- parity 

MP-128 128K -I- parity 

MP-192 192K-F parity 

MP-256 256K -f parity 
All memories are 250 ns Access Time 
and 410 ns Cycle Time. 

Fully assembled and tested. 

17925 Sky Park Circle, Suite B 
Irvine, CA 92714 (714) 540-1333 

Dealer inquiries 





A PC-Lab comparative report on ' 'spreadsheet" programs, including the original, 
VisiCalc, plus SuperCalc, Multiplan and other pretenders to the throne. 

Inside IBM 

PC visits the PC’s birthplace in Boca Raton, Florida, for a First-hand report on the 
how-and-whys of the IBM Personal Computer. Don Estridge, the IBM executive in 
charge of the Personal Computer program, shares insight into the PC's design in an 
exclusive PC interview. Also: A peek at the soon-to-open new PC factory and what it 
bodes for the PC’s future. 

. More From Microsoft 

To follow up this issue’s interview with Bill Gates, PC talks with Vern Raburn, Presi- 
dent of Microsoft Consumer Products, a division of Microsoft. His views on future 
trends in application software are of particular interest to PC readers, since Microsoft 
will undoubtedly continue to supply programs for the IBM Personal Computer. 

Taking The Measure — Part 2. . .Color Monitor Test. . .more Product Reports. . .new 
product news . . zPC Profile. . .and lots more. 

Index To 

.Advanced Operating .Sy.stems .... 36 

Amdek 15 

Apparat 66 

A.ST 94 

Chrislin Industries 28 

CompuServe 7 

Computer Systems Design 85 

Computhink 6l 

Data Mac 85 

Digital .Marketing 10 

Electronic Specialists 69 

Escon Products 33 

Fanta.sia Systems 63 

Godbout 70, 71 

Hayes .Microcomputer Products ..31 

How ard W. Sams 24 

IB.M Inside Front 

Instor Corporation 37 

Intermedia Systems 34 

International .Software Marketing . 2 

ImerSeli 79 

Keller .Software 77 

Laboratory .Microsystems 69 

Leading Edge Inside Back 

Lifeboat Associates 3,29 

Micro Business Mbrid 92 

Microcorp 25 

.Microfocus 4 

.Micro Peripherals 60 

.Micro.soft Consumer Products 1 

OSBORNE/McGraw-Hill 87 

Quantum Software Sy.stems 69 

Que Corporation 23 

RobertJ. Brady 74 

Sigma Designs 85 

Softech .Microsystems 83 

Software Communications ... 63,81 

Sorcim 48, 49 

Sybex 51,53 

Sycon, Inc 13 

Tecmarinc Back Cover 

T.G. Products 90 

Time Sharing Consultants 63 

V.R. Data 22, 24 


wish list 

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K invites readers to contribute U ish List ideas for publication Any product, service or design idea you'd like to see f<ir IBM Personal Computers is fair game for 
PCs Wish List feature. Ideas selected for publication will he illustrated by /^s artist PC vc ill pay S2S for the featured W ish List idea used in each issue. S 10 for other 
ideas awarded Honorable Mention All published idea.s w ill be credited to the person or organization submitting them, and become the properly of PC. In case of 
duplicate submissions, any award will go to the entry with the earliest postmark. 

Send W ish List ideas— a description, sketch or both together with your name, address and phone number tt» PC W ish List. 12.<9 21st Avenue. San Francisco. 
California 9 h 122. Sorry, we can't discuss the W ish List feature by telephone 


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They never forget. Get yourself a trunkful. 


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Copyrighted materif. 

The IBM Personal Computer 

Personal, Professional, Technical — or somewhere in between ... 
PC-MA 1 17 “ makes the IBM Personal Computer a perfect match 

P( - M \ 1 1 “ from I l-.f \1 A K is the first and »»nl> complete 
expansion series aNailable for the IBM Persrrnal 
( ornputer. I here are currentl> more than twent> P( - 
M M r* expansion options a\ailable. and new products 
are eontirujousl\ added to tbe list. 

\N ben >ou want more from \our IBM Personal 
( ornputer. look to P( -M \ 1 1 

You can create a SI PI R PI RSON \l ( OMPl II K 
with household lights and appliance control, voice 
output, and give it more memorv than anv ordinarv 
personal can handle. 

Or make it a PKOM l ABI.i: PR OI KSSIO \ A I. 

S I I.M with expansion space and a U inchester disk to 
handle more business accounts. Increase memory up to 

tbe svstem limit and process those accounts faster. Add I 
flexible I/O interfaces and put vourself on line to outside < 
information sources. 

As an IM KI I.K.KN'f 1 ABOKATOR^ TOOl «ilh i 
interfaces to IKKK 488 instrumentation, analog signals. . 
stepper mot(»rs and video signals, vour IBM Personal I 
( ornputer becomes the perfect workbench assistant. 

Hardware. S(»ftware. Accessories — P( -\l M I. ’' provides t 
the highest quality and the greatest possible range of 1 
functionalitv for the IBM user. 

Ask vour local computer store for more information on i 
the P(-\I\IK“ series from TKCMAR, or cal) for the ! 
name of vour nearest authorized PC -M XTK'" dealer. 



Mercantile Rd„ Cleveland, OH 44122 (216) 464-7410 

Personal C ornputer Expansion C hassis (see photo) 
I92K and 259K Dynamic .Memory with Parity 
\Mnchester Disk Drive and C ontroller 
Parallel Medium .Speed Input/Output Interface 
Serial Medium Speed Input/Output Interface 
Parallel High Speed Input/Output Interface 
Serial High Speed Input/Output Interface 
Analog to Digital C onverter - 8. 12, 14. 16 Bit 
Dust C over Set for IBM PC and Peripherals 
High Speed Static Memory (RAM/ROM) 
Digital to Analog C onverter > 8 and 12 Bit 
MuIti-.System Printer Sharing Facility 
CMOS Memory with Battery Backup 
System C lock with Battery Backup 
Flectrically Krasable KPKOM 
BSR \-IO Device C ontroller 
Stepping Motor C ontroller 
Mdeo Image Digitizer 
IKKK 488 Interface 
Prototy ping Board 
Music Synthesizer 
V oice Synthesizer 
Kxtender Board 

One Year M arranty 

Additional products 
are already under 
development, so if 
we don't have what 
you need, chances 
are good that we 
soon will.